Forum: General Discussion
Topic: Shared Non-profit Opt in Database
started by: westonwanderers

Posted by westonwanderers on Sep. 29 2004,4:47 am
It looks like GC.com are down, so that as it stands, currently, It is not possible to go geocaching, apart from using the unfortunately small subset of caches hosted by Navicache. It is not fair, that one entity should have this responsibility, but I guess you already agree, as why would Navicache be here otherwise!...

So, I'm considering setting up a new geocache database. This database will not be like GC.com's, or Navicache, as it will only list caches that are listed elsewhere.... A Google for caches!! This way, Should the project take off, it will be possible to retrieve co-ords for caches for the times when GC.com, or even Navicache are unable to.

A few things about this database.

1) It will be accessible by Members Only... Ie, not publicly accessible. One of the requirements of been a member, will be that you must register all your placed caches.  This will give a reason for people to re-log their caches.

2) Any site, including Navicache, will be able to maintain a synched copy of this database, and provide searches over this database for it's users, on the condition that rule 1) is maintained.

3) Caches will be listed, without having an approval process, It will be assumed that if it is listed elsewhere, then it should be listed here.

4) There will be no Logs.. These will be handled, as now, by the original Approving site (Navicache/Geocache/other)... A link will be avavilable to tie back to the cache logging page on NC/GC.

What this means for Navicache?, Well, if the system was in place, when performing a Navicache search, Navicache will also perform a seach over this database (but only if the Navicache member, was also a member of this new database), and display both sets of results... . Clicking on a link within this list, will link back to the original Cache approving site.

Lets say that 80% of all caches were also listed on this database. People searching Navicache will get to search these 80%, I Agree, the majority of will be GC.com's caches, but there will be Navicache listed caches also. A search might possibly give more hits than searching GC.com alone. This will break the Monopoly that GC.com have, as people would prefer to use this type of search available on Navicache, and not GC.com..

How to get to 80% cache listing? By third party's (websites such as Buxleys, or my Mobile Midlet (www.geocacheuk.com/midlet.shtml) for example) providing services that GC.com do not..... Imagine 10 different third parties web sites, all offering amazing services, via Web/Wap/Txt msg/GPX download, you name it. Now, for people to use any of these services,  They must register  the location of their placed caches, and therefore increase the size of the database. Otherwise, they'd just have to scuttle back to GC.com, and not be allowed to the party.... I Think that most people would prefer to sign up, and gain access to this resource, rather than just stick with GC.com.

And the name?..... Well, I've just registered 'ulacs.org' - standing for Union of Letterbox And 'Cache Seekers...This is what exactly it will be, A Union of geocache, or letterbox seekers sharing their cache details with other members of the union, for mutual benefit - Run by the members, for the members. I Welcome suggestions for other names, that sound less like a constipation remedy... (I didn't realise it, before I registered It!)  !!!

Cheers,
Tony.

Posted by PC Medic on Sep. 29 2004,8:39 am
I see some good in this idea, one being that it adds another option for cache listings should one site temporarily (or permanently) go down. It also has other good in that you can add options/features that maybe others do not want to make your site more appealing to some.

I do see some drawbacks in that you will need to start a database which means the 80% number is exaggerated at this point. I also am not sure the need to list a cache to become registered is good as a majority of cachers are seelers and not hiders.

This will be a welcome addition and interesting to see how it matures.

By the way, I moved this as its original location was not the most appropriate forum.



Posted by westonwanderers on Sep. 29 2004,9:39 am
Quote (PC Medic @ Sep. 29 2004,10:39 am)
I see some good in this idea, one being that it adds another option for cache listings should one site temporarily (or permanently) go down. It also has other good in that you can add options/features that maybe others do not want to make your site more appealing to some.

I do see some drawbacks in that you will need to start a database which means the 80% number is exaggerated at this point. I also am not sure the need to list a cache to become registered is good as a majority of cachers are seelers and not hiders.

The idea is, that this site will be as uninteresting, and featureless as can be.... Maybe not even a seach facility!!.. I do not want people to use my site for locating caches - this is the job of GC.com/Navicache/etc!.... What I want to host, is a private, members only central reserve of caches, that is used by OTHER sites, such as Navicache... Or anyone else who wants to... People registering their cache with this repositary, will be able to query caches in the repository, via these other sites ..... It's a give and take thing!

YACLS (Yet another Cache listing site) will have the same problems gaining market share as Navicache, or others gone by, and the chances of success in the current GC.com dominated marketplace are practically zilch!. I don't want to attempt to compete!. This database, however, will enable sites, (such as Navicache) to virtually list some caches on that other site, without worrying about been sued by GC.com, or having access   blocked by them, or whatever.... You will be querying your own local copy of the data, knowing that this data has been offered by the cache owners, rather than screenscraping anyone. It will not be an alternative to Navicache, more a resource that Navicache, or anyone else wanting to set up a geocache site, can offer to it's users.

The drawbacks, that you mention, are actually the main reason this project will be created..... So that other sites, in the future, will have an accessable database to offer their users, while trying to build their own database. I am trying to level the playing field!.

Posted by Team BMW-Biker on Sep. 29 2004,11:26 am
Hi,

you want to create an database that keeps copies of caches ... good.

Why in a third database? Why not simply post caches on gc.com and nc.com (ok, gc.com is more restrictive, but this affects only a few caches)? I don't think that gc.com and nc.com will go down at the same time ...

How does the caches come to this database?

- auto-posted by nc.com and gc.com? Forget about it ... gc.com won't drop themself off from their monopoly ...

- posted by the users? ... when they doesn't post their caches on nc ... why on your site?


I'm sure you've heard about opencaching ... why don't use opencaching (ok, its currently in development and yet not usable)?

Opencaching is planed to share the entire data (caches, logs, travelbugs and maybe pictures and useraccounts) with other sites ... when one sites goes down ... no problem ...


... Oliver

Posted by PC Medic on Sep. 29 2004,5:08 pm
Quote (westonwanderers @ Sep. 29 2004,11:39 am)
The idea is, that this site will be as uninteresting, and featureless as can be.... Maybe not even a seach facility!!.. I do not want people to use my site for locating caches - this is the job of GC.com/Navicache/etc!.... What I want to host, is a private, members only central reserve of caches, that is used by OTHER sites, such as Navicache... Or anyone else who wants to... People registering their cache with this repositary, will be able to query caches in the repository, via these other sites ..... It's a give and take thing!


While I am all for a new site to promote and support the sport/hobby of geocaching, I am not sure I understand how this would draw any visitors. Also, if only those that place a cache in your database are able to retrieve them and there may not even be a search function in which to find them once they are there, then where are you getting the database and how will they be retrieved?


Quote
YACLS (Yet another Cache listing site) will have the same problems gaining market share as Navicache, or others gone by, and the chances of success in the current GC.com dominated marketplace are practically zilch!.



I am not sure I agree here, it all depends on the approach the new site takes, restrictive and commercial or relaxed and more open community minded. I also do not see that the chances for success are "zilch", though maybe we are thinking of different views of success. In fact lately it would seem this is less the case than say a year ago.

Quote
I don't want to attempt to compete!. This database, however, will enable sites, (such as Navicache) to virtually list some caches on that other site, without worrying about been sued by GC.com, or having access blocked by them, or whatever....


I don't think anyone is looking to "compete" (though there are those that feel otherwise), I think most are just looking to offer alternative options to those interested and avoid the risk of all being lost with the failure of a single entity.

No way to 'virtually' list the data from anothers database without their permission (not ethically any way), so I am not sure how you would propose doing this. Would it not be more beneficial to get the cache owners to actually post the data with sites that are more willing to work to advance the sport for all involved?

Quote
You will be querying your own local copy of the data, knowing that this data has been offered by the cache owners, rather than screenscraping anyone. It will not be an alternative to Navicache, more a resource that Navicache, or anyone else wanting to set up a geocache site, can offer to it's users.



more on how this will work???


Quote
The drawbacks, that you mention, are actually the main reason this project will be created..... So that other sites, in the future, will have an accessable database to offer their users, while trying to build their own database. I am trying to level the playing field!.


This is similar to what we already offer, though we differ from your concept in that we also add the window dressing.

Posted by PC Medic on Sep. 29 2004,5:20 pm
Quote (Team BMW-Biker @ Sep. 29 2004,1:26 pm)
Hi,

you want to create an database that keeps copies of caches ... good.

Why in a third database? Why not simply post caches on gc.com and nc.com (ok, gc.com is more restrictive, but this affects only a few caches)? I don't think that gc.com and nc.com will go down at the same time ...

I do not see much issue with a third dadtabase (or fourth, or fifth or ... ) as while you are probably right in that the odds of NC or GC both going down at the same time are pretty slim, anything is possible. There is also the issue that as the sport/hobby continues to grow the risks associated with one entity having control of all the data increases. It has nothing to do with competing, it is more (in my book any way) a matter of the different sites complimenting and supporting each other.

Quote
I'm sure you've heard about opencaching ... why don't use opencaching (ok, its currently in development and yet not usable)?

Opencaching is planed to share the entire data (caches, logs, travelbugs and maybe pictures and useraccounts) with other sites ... when one sites goes down ... no problem ...


A concept we have been supporting here for quite some time.
the biggest hurdle we (sites promoting an open caching community) must all overcome, is a standard engine/utility to be used to synch the various databases.

I am curious westonwanderers, have you figured out a flexible format for this ?

Posted by westonwanderers on Sep. 30 2004,2:59 am
Actually, I do have a mechanism of updating many databases near instantly - (person updates data at Navicache, changes reflected at AcmeCache.com - within a second)!....

The data I want to store is the following:

Cache Name
Status (archived/temp archived/active)
Co-ordinates
Size (Large/ Standard/ Micro/Virtual)
Description
Clue
Placed Date
Last change Date
Owner email
Owner username
Cache Hosting site (navicache/gc.com)
ID of cache on Cache hosting site (Waypoint)
Link Back to cache page on hosting site


This will be hosted on an IBM AS400 computer, firstly, because that what I program in my day job (and I know no perl/PHP), and secondly, It's known AS400's are near enough hack proof (technically, it's not possible for buffer overflows to enable execution of unauthorised code).

For a third party who wants to keep a copy of the database in sync, they will have a permanent TCP/IP socket connection (not http) to this as400, and will be able to submit amendments to the database through this connection, via a simple messaging protocol . Other third parties connected will instantly receive notification of this update, and can update their own copies of the database to match. This software already exists, and is ready to go.

I'm afraid I don't think I can make the database fully 'Open' to all.... There needs to be some control to prevent mis-useage of data (eg, I wouldn't want someone downloading the entire database, and then publishing it in a magazine, without first asking at least!).  However, I want the rules to Who can/can't use the database and the terms and conditions  to be fully up to the members who built it in the first place, Ie, the actual people who registered their cache details....

As the data is fully replicated across many third party sites, Then, should I start restricting access to 'my data' for commercial reasons, or sell out the entire operation to Microsoft!, it would be very possible to go it alone, of form a similar shared database, using what you already have... The Licence to use the database, will be in similar vain, and purpose, to the GPL software Licence... But instead of the restriction been 'Modify the software, you must release source for the modifications', it will be 'To Use the database, you must contribute your own cache details'. The Database will be owned by everyone, but no-one, Just like Linux is!.... I will need some help working out this licence...

Finally, there will be caches that are listed on GC.com listed within this database, but only because those cache owners have decided to list them in both GC.com, and this GPL database. This way, no permission is needed from GC.com at all, as the cache details were submitted by their owners.  The question is asked, why would cache owners go the the trouble of listing twice? Well, If they didn't, they wouldn't be able to use the facilities that will be offered by the (yet to be formed) other websites that use the database.

Posted by PC Medic on Oct. 01 2004,8:15 am
This sounds like you have a good foundation set.
May perhaps want to reconsider the addition of the cachers email address being in this shared database though.

Posted by westonwanderers on Oct. 01 2004,9:39 am
Quote (PC Medic @ Oct. 01 2004,10:15 am)
This sounds like you have a good foundation set.
May perhaps want to reconsider the addition of the cachers email address being in this shared database though.

I Understand why you say the addition of the cachers email might be problematic..... I definatly would not want this information publically exposed, even to the individual members - spam bots will have a field day.

But, at the same time, it will be nice to have the facility  to contact a cache owner, should someone query the data that is present on the database.

This shared database will be shared only among trusted sites, such as Navicache, individual members will be able to query it, but not be able to access sensitive fields like this..... This is something to discuss further...... Can sites that have been granted the permission to keep a synchronised database, be trusted not to missuse the information within it?

Once I've got things up and running, and get a few members, then I'll put it to the vote!...

Cheers,
Tony.

Posted by PC Medic on Oct. 01 2004,10:42 am
Exactly.

For example we share cacahe database information already and even allow for members to select when placing a cache if they would like the information available for use on other sites (though there is still some honor system involved here). But we only transfer cache data and with the exception of the cache owners username, no other data is available in this manner. Persoannly I do not think most visitors would want this (email address shared). I know I would not were it me.

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