RSS Feeds, Geocaching in the News, a failed experiment, and a new experiment (be a BETA tester!)

Above is a (rather large and nicely done) RSS Feed icon. Might as well go with the Wikipedia definition, as follows: 

“RSS Rich Site Summary (originally RDF Site Summary, often dubbed Really Simple Syndication) is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format. An RSS document (which is called a “feed”, “web feed”, or “channel”) includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship.”

Here is an excellent article from Google support, titled Feed 101, should you need to read up more on what RSS feeds are, and how they work (in layman’s terms). Now this blog post could be about just about any subject. But in Geocaching, we do in fact have new web content just about every day of what is bolded in the quote above: blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video.

EDIT: This has become the most viewed post on our blog over time. Hopefully the short overview and links above are helpful to all you search engine visitors!!

By the way, feel free to subscribe to any or all of our own OCNA RSS feeds! Clicking on the RSS feed icon in the sidebar to the right will take you to a page on our site where we have four feeds available. A little shameless self promotion here, the world wide Opencaching network is the only Geocaching listing service entity that seems to have embraced RSS feeds. seems disinterested (except for their own blog, or in their forums), and I’m not aware of any other alternative sites that offer any feeds of their content at all. In addition to the latest caches, the latest log entries, our latest news and this blog, you can also get feeds via your profile on our site of your own cache logs, and the logs posted to your owned caches.

So what was the failed experiment? In March, we at Opencaching North America launched a weekly “Geocaching in the news” newsletter generated by the service If you’re on Twitter, you’ve seen these newsletters, believe me! There are literally dozens in the Twittersphere dedicated to Geocaching alone. Most people generate their content from tweets from the people they follow on Twitter. We noticed you can also generate the content from RSS feeds, and thought we could generate better content than most. However, half the time, the various RSS feeds generated no content through, and in addition to that, the newsletter didn’t auto-tweet for three weeks. So after only six weeks, we announced the elimination of this failed experiment.

On the sidebar of this blog, you will see six RSS feeds, seven if you count the Twitter feed as one (which it technically is). This could use some serious improvement too, the blogger “RSS feed Widget” generates fresh web content, but it sort of reminds me of a screen shot from a Unix terminal or something! And as of the date of this post, the widget is not generating the “authors” of the Podcasts, so it’s hard to tell which one is which. This brings us to our new experiment, where you have a chance to be a BETA tester.

This is Freddie, the mascot for Don’t worry, we’re in full compliance with their brand assets page to use his image here! MailChimp offers an RSS to email newsletter service. We would like to try this out, using the six feeds seen below our Twitter feed on the sidebar (by the way, the Videos and Podcasts are “feed mixes”, already generated by MailChimp). This would be a weekly newsletter in various formats, and would contain graphics from several of the feeds, with the HTML version, and we would assume the mobile version as well. I guess we’ll find out on the mobile version, seeing as you are BETA testers!

Want to subscribe to this new RSS feed generated Geocaching newsletter? Just enter your email address in the basic form below. You must opt-in to receive this newsletter (per guidelines), and this post is the only place the form is being shown (for a while, at least). We don’t like deadlines here at the OCNA blog,  but we should have no problem setting up the template, and getting the first edition out by May 15th, two weeks from the date of this post.

EDIT: Beta RSS newsletter was aborted, sign-up form that appeared below this line deleted.

News about this Blog

This post is not being promoted or announced via social media. Some may have noticed in the very first blog post, I threatened to “host the blog on our own server”. That statement isn’t entirely accurate, the blog has actually been redirected to the URL I could post a link, but that would be rather redundant, wouldn’t it? We didn’t do this right away, because I was not the owner of the domain names, and for a few weeks after coming on board as the replacement 3rd admin.

As long as we continue to use Google’s Blogger software (and I’d have to say we’re pretty happy with it so far), the original URL, will always work, and no existing bookmarks need to be updated. Go ahead and try that one; you actually see in your browser. There was a somewhat humorous glitch associated with this redirect though. I created some Address name records, commonly known as “A records” at our web host. One of our other admins noted that suddenly, you needed the “www” in any URL on our website, or you would get an error page. In other words, wouldn’t work, for example. Go ahead and try that too, it works now. Once I was informed, I knew exactly what happened, and this error was fixed within 2 hours at most, and happened in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday.

There is no set schedule for posts to this blog, and that’s a good thing too, who likes deadlines? But we have generally been posting once a week, and usually on Wednesdays. That seems to be working out pretty good. That being said, we may be a little late this week! Thanks for reading, readership has gone up every single week so far, according to the statistics we can see in the Blogger control panel.

Sporadically featured OpenCachingNA Cache: A Virtual Made in the Mist

Welcome to the first “Sporadically featured OCNA Cache”, a feature promised in the very first blog post. Above is a picture of Niagara Falls, more specifically, the American Falls, as taken by the blog author from the Maid of The Mist tour boat. If you’ve never been to Niagara Falls, you can read about the three waterfalls collectively known as Niagara Falls on Wikipedia. The task of visiting Niagara Falls from below, which can be accomplished only through one of four “paid” access options, is the object of the Virtual Cache A Virtual Made in the Mist, created on July 6th, 2011, by Opencaching North America Admin DudleyGrunt.

Editors note: Like virtually (pun intended) all the “alternative” Geocaching websites, we at Opencaching North America list Virtual caches. But we always like to add the disclaimer that you should review the section on them in our terms of use first.

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“Our” Opencaching vs Garmin’s Opencaching, a comparison of sorts


Part two of two, You can find part one here. Since we at the world-wide Opencaching Network, which includes Opencaching North America, are often confused with Garmin’s, I figured a blog post comparing the two listing services was in order early on in the history of this blog. This blog post is highly influenced by a post fellow OpencachingNA Admin Dudley Grunt made to his local Geocaching forum in July 2012, and he posted links to that post at the forums of all the U.S. based alternative Geocaching websites. I asked him if he wanted to come on and do a guest post, but he was OK with my using it as reference material, and I promised to not to plagiarize it too much!!

 Garmin: Like Groundspeak, the Garmin site is run by a corporation with relatively significant money to  invest in the site.
 OCNA:  The site is funded and run on a fully volunteer basis, essentially, as a not-for-profit entity. We pay for our three domain names and web hosting (at the well-known website host out of our pockets.

 Cross Listing:
 Garmin: Strongly encouraged. With a few mouse clicks, you can import thousands of hides or finds. Often runs contests encouraging listing caches on their website. There is no direct way to tell whether or not a cache is cross listed, and no way to filter for unique hides to their site in searches.
 OCNA: Permitted, but unique hides are preferred. The very first page in the cache submission process contains text that informs the hider that we accept cross listings, but prefer unique caches. The cache submission page contains fields to link to sites the cache may be cross listed on. We have a special attribute “OC.US ONLY” available for caches that ARE unique to the site. It is possible to filter searches to show only the unique hides via our “advanced search”.Currently, about 55% of our listings have the “OCUS ONLY” attribute, and we believe approximately 75% of the listings are unique.

 Garmin: None, per se. They have “Peer Reviewing”. The site members vote up or down on caches. The blog author has not participated in this, but from reading their forums, it seems to be often problematic.
 OCNA: Caches reviewed by three site admins (Mr.Yuck, DudleyGrunt, NativTxn), who treat our guidelines AS guidelines and can work with individual caches/cachers to approve things that might not be 100% within the listed guidelines. Caches are generally reviewed & published the same day. Since the blog author, Mr.Yuck, is a newbie admin, he has not reviewed any caches to date.

 Cache Types:
 Garmin: Traditional, Multi, Puzzle, Virtual.
 OCNA: Traditional, Multi, Puzzle, Virtual also. But we also list Moving, Webcam, BIT Caches, Events, MP3, Guest book and Unknown (a catch all).

 Membership Fees:
 Both sites are completely free, with all features available to all users.

 Rating of caches by users:
 Garmin: Finders can give caches a rating based on “Awesomeness”. Garmin uses a sliding scale from 1.0 to 5.0 (in 0.1 increments – that’s 49 possibilities for each).
 OCNA: Cache finders can rate each cache on a 5 point scale and can give a “Recommendation” to 1 out of every 10 caches they find (this is similar to, but predates Groundpeak’s “Favorite Points”).                          

“Our” Opencaching vs Garmin’s Opencaching, a history of sorts

A few notes first, I hope to post to this blog at least once a week, but I’m currently spending a lot of my free time educating myself with the OpencachingNA Linux server. Boy, is that a learning experience. It’s only been eight days since the first post. Note that the “Latest Geocaches” and “Latest Log Entries” to the right of this post are from an RSS feed, and should be updated every time you view this page. As well as our Twitter feed too, of course.

OK, why are there two totally different alternative Geocaching entities calling themselves Opencaching? This short answer is, I don’t know, ask Garmin! We, Opencaching North America, are part of the world-wide Opencaching network, established in 2005 with There are currently nine Opencaching nodes, as we call them, that are part of this network. (Japan) has gone dark, and (Spain) really just points to the German website, You can view them all at All characterized by their distinctive white and blue color scheme. Garmin came along, and purchased the domain name in September 2010, and launched their website in early December, 2010.

But that’s not the whole story! The domain name was originally purchased by “some guy named Hank” on September 15th, 2003. I have no idea who he was, or his Geocaching handle, because he has been obliterated from the WHOIS registry, being the original owner of an expired, and for several years vacant and for sale, domain name. Thanks to the Wayback Machine from we can see several snapshots of how his website looked from September 2003 until late December 2005, when he apparently decided he was going to throw in the towel, and the original was never developed as an alternative to

In This snapshot of from December 31st, 2005 you can see what looked like shortly before “Hank” let it expire. All of his “Site news” is there from day one in that snapshot, so you can follow along on his updates on the project. He had forums, where people apparently discussed the project, but they were not indexed by  Although he never got the project off the ground, you can see he was happy the concept took off somewhere (i.e. Germany), per this quote from the last post under site news: “This project has been off the radar for some time (measured in quarters or years at this point) … the one brightspot being that our German friends at opencaching .de had the resources and committment to make the concept work … perhaps someone will make other core nodes?”

I’m not sure exactly when “Hank” let the domain name expire, but Another snapshot of, from May 2010, shows it with a classic “domain for sale” placer page. As previously mentioned, the domain name was then purchased by Garmin in September 2010, and Opie the Awesome (blue) Squirrel was born.

The next blog post, which I can tell you won’t take 8 days, as I was going to make it one post, but decided to make it two, will be “”Our” Opencaching vs Garmin’s Opencaching, a comparison of sorts”. Then after that, we have a couple interviews lined up, and possibly our first guest blog post.