I recently did a Google search for something geocaching related (but of course) and noticed that some of the search suggestions returned were quite puzzling and others were somewhat amusing. Autocomplete works by trying to guess what you are going to search for, based on what other users have searched for in your region – this is important as the suggestions I saw, which you’ll see below, may not necessarily be the same as what you will see with the same search, although why so many people in the UK are searching for information on geocaching in Boise, Idaho is a little perplexing.
For fun, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on what people are searching for on Google with the words ‘geocaching is’ and each letter of the alphabet.
A is for Awesome and a Hoax?
Geocaching is awesome. No need to Google this really, it goes without saying, no extra data required to back this one up.
I was intrigued by ‘is geocaching a hoax’ so I had a look at some of the results. There was a mixture of people trying out geocaching and finding any of the caches they looked for, thus concluding it was a hoax, and articles about caches being misidentified as suspicious devices.
B is for Books and Blogs
Besides from the many great geocaching how-to books out there, there are also kid’s books, colouring books and an increasing number of novels that feature an element of geocaching – just the thing to keep you busy when it’s too cold or wet outside to go geocaching!
There are lots of enjoyable geocaching blogs out there now too and Washknight has a great list of them on his blog here, if you’re interested in expanding your geocaching reading material.
C is for Cheats
Geocheating.com (no longer a valid address) had a tagline of ‘Making impossible geocaches possible’, the aim of which was to give extensive hints to help locate (presumably deliberately) difficult to find caches. Since the site didn’t last, I wonder is there really such an appetite for geocache cheats. Events are generally great outlets for getting additional hints on a cache I’ve had issues finding, and I guess some diehards may call that cheating.
D is for Danger
E is for Etiquette
Ah geocaching etiquette. The subject of many, many heated discussions on geocaching Facebook groups across the globe. I have been asked a few times to do a post on etiquette but it’s a quite a subjective topic so I’m still working on it.
F is for FTF and Free
Geocaching is technically free, yes. You can sign up for a basic membership, download a free app and be on your way!
FTF is such a popular sidegame, it’s predictable it appears in the results, though I’m surprised it’s not higher up.
G is for Groups and Gifts
There are quite a few local geocaching groups dotted around various areas and even more Facebook groups set up to discuss geocaching. Finding a local group to go geocaching is great when you’re starting out, but even if there aren’t any in your area, just attending an event will open up the social aspect of the game.
I wrote this post about Christmas gifts for geocachers almost a year ago and I’m currently working on the 2016 version – so watch this space!
H is for Hard
Yes, geocaching can be hard, particularly when you’re starting out and you don’t know a geocacher to help you with the ins and outs. Like most things in life, practice makes perfect. That, and finding out as much as you can about geocaching – which is probably why search terms like ‘types of geocache’ and ‘geocaching guidelines’ are so highly ranked.
I is for Illegal
I wonder about those who are Googling ‘is geocaching illegal’: is it people who are thinking of starting out and wondering about the legalities, or is it those who have no interest in taking part but want to know if what we’re up to is legal? Either way, geocaching as an activity is, of course, not illegal but questions have to be asked about some cache placements and occasionally taking somewhat illegal shortcuts to get to GZ (most of us have done it, either deliberately or unwittingly).
J is for Jobs
Most ‘geocachers’ dream: getting paid to go geocaching. I’m not surprised that this was the first result under ‘J’. If you’re lucky enough to live within commuting distance of Seattle, or have the option to relocate, Groundspeak advertise jobs here.
K is for Kit
Lots of placenames pop up under a ‘K’ search but the top result is unsurprisingly ‘kit’. Lots of us want to compare our kits to other peoples, to make sure we’re not missing out on some handy TOTT we should have.
L is for Littering, Lame and Losers
Geocaching is not littering, nor is it lame and it’s definitely not just for losers. It’s for everyone. For losers and cool people alike. It’s a non-discriminatory game in that sense.
M is for Meaning and Muggles
The big question that geocachers have: what is the meaning? For me, the meaning is that it makes me happy, and isn’t that what we all strive for?
What we all want to avoid, however, is non-geocacher interference, so it’s not unexpected that muggle also features in the results.
N is for Nerdy
Maybe it is, maybe it’s not, but either way, who cares? If geocaching makes me a nerd, I don’t want to be cool!
O is for On Mars, On Cruise Ships and On Mount Everest
No, there aren’t any geocaches on Mars, but, the Geocaching Listing Requirements appears to be hopeful of this occurring in the future: “Geocaches are allowed in space, on other planets and in spacecraft.” There is, of course, a geocache on the International Space Station (GC1BE91) although FTF is no longer up for grabs!
I don’t believe that geocaches can be published on cruise ships either, although I guess if someone brought a travelling cache with them on a cruise, it could happen in a roundabout way. And of course, there are caches on Mount Everest, including an 5/5 EarthCache at the summit!
P is for Premium and Pokemon
‘Is premium membership worth it?’ is a question I’ve seen asked numerous times in FB groups and my views on the matter are detailed here (spoiler: it is!).
The emergence of Pokemon Go definitely increased more widespread knowledge about geocaching, and according to geocaching co-founder Bryan Roth, the pocket monster catching game has been great for business.
Q is for Quizzes and Quotes
Groundspeak occasionally publish quizzes to test your geocaching knowledge, which is always fun.
I found a great geocaching quote while doing my search too: “the best thing about geocaching is that anyone can play, and the worst thing about geocaching is that anyone can play!”
R is for Rankings and Rules
In case you hadn’t noticed, geocachers can be somewhat competitive, so it’s no wonder rankings appears as a search term. Incidentally, you can see your world and country ‘ranking’ here.
According to geocaching.com, there are only three rules. The guidelines, however, are much more extensive, and in a lot of cases, open to interpretation.
S is for Safe and Stats
Is geocaching safe? If you make smart decisions and don’t go too far just to get that smiley, then you can stay safe.
Much like rankings, the search term ‘stats’ reflects the competitive nature of many geocachers. The growing popularity of Project GC is testament to our preoccupation with stats.
T is for The Point
What’s the point? How many times have I been asked this when I tell muggles about geocaching? Of course, you can explain the many, many benefits of our hobby but I usually prefer to find out what their hobby is and ask them what the point of that is 😉
U is for Underwater and Unfound
Underwater, or scuba, caches are increasing in number but still relatively rare. I’ve never been scuba diving but it’s on my bucket list so maybe one day I’ll be able to grab a cache underwater.
The appearance of ‘unfound’ as a search term is predictable in a geoworld slightly obsessed with FTF (no judgement here, I’m right there with the first-to-find addicted!)
V is for Vlogger and Vocabulary
If you haven’t heard of the Geocaching Vlogger, aka Joshua Johnson, check out his hilarious videos on his YouTube channel here.
Geocachers are so accustomed to using caching vocabulary when we talk to each other, we can forget how utterly strange our conversations can sound to outsiders.
W is for What
I like how the top search is phrased; it makes me think, ‘geocaching is WHAT?!’ Think about it: we use multi-million dollar satellites to look for lunchboxes in the woods. Sorry, what??
X is for X Marks the Spot
Surely one of the most popular geocache names, X marks the spot is a throwback to pirate maps and an X marking the location of the buried treasure.
Y is for Yahoo Answers
Another letter where most of the results were placenames, but I was slightly baffled to see Yahoo Answers pop up. I can only hope that people are Googling that for their own amusement, rather than to source accurate information.
Z is for Zombie
For reasons unbeknownst to me, geocachers seem to have an above average preoccupation with zombies. There appears to be a lot of zombie-themed caches, events and trackables all over the place.
Have you come across any amusing or baffling geocaching-related search term results? Let me know in the comments!
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