Dear GCHQ,

Regarding Wherigo.com, in a cleaned-up version of one of my mother’s favorite sayings, “It’s time to poop or get off the pot!”

Memfis Mafia reports that GCHQ has told him, “Wherigo isn’t going anywhere.”  To him, this means Wherigo geocaches will not disappear. Does it also mean Wherigo.com will remain stagnant, as it has been for twelve years?  That would be a shame.  With the widespread proliferation of smartphones, the potential of Wherigo is greatly expanded.

In late 2001, geocaching.com cofounders, Jeremy Irish and Elias Alvord, came up with an interesting challenge:  How could they bring their favorite adventure games outdoors using GPS technology?  Rather than being indoors using a mouse to move from screen to screen in search of puzzle clues, the player could look for them in the real world using a GPS or a Pocket PC (smartphone).  Cartridge builders could create an endless number of interesting experiences: walking tours of the City, interactive fictional adventures, location-based games like tag or Concentration.  The only stipulation for geocaching was that, in the end, there had to be a container with a log to sign.

On February 21, 2008, Jeremy Irish announced, “Today we added a new cache type: The Wherigo Cache. The new cache type is a way to help integrate the functionality of Wherigo into geocaching.”

Groundspeak (now GCHQ) launched the wherigo.com website, complete with a Wherigo Builder, a tutorial on how to build cartridges, a sample cartridge, FAQs, and a message board.  Garmin included a Wherigo Player in their Colorado and Oregon series.  Geocachers could download and install the Wherigo Player for a Windows-based PocketPC.  Since the initial announcement and launch, nothing has been added to the site, nada, zip, crickets.

The wherigo.com website has not been updated since early 2008.  The Wherigo Player and Wherigo Builder (Alpha) were last updated on January 4, 2008. The native Builder worked on Windows XP, but it took a user-created modification to the code for it to run on Windows7.  Laughingly, the home page states, “Wherigo.com still has that new car smell. We’re working on adding new features day by day so you can get the most out of your Wherigo experience.”

Despite the fact that GCHQ has completely ignored Wherigo for more than a decade, geocachers around the world continue to create Wherigo geocaches. Fortunately, there are third-party Wherigo builders available to support their efforts.  Isn’t it time that GCHQ supported these efforts?  At a minimum, GCHQ could update the site, make it more reliable, and get rid of that “new car smell” so we can have a site that will work smoothly and effectively.  Even better, they could explore ways to improve the experience by adding some of the features available in Adventure Labs, like videos and geofencing.

It’s been twelve years.  Stop assuring us “Wherigo isn’t going anywhere,” and tell us “Wherigo is moving forward.”

Respectfully, a frustrated geocacher,

gsmX2

scottinojai@gmail.com

Do you feel the same as gsmX2 about wherigos or perhaps a different aspect of geocaching? What would you like to see improved? Let us know in a post or email us your thoughts!

I began geocaching in November 2004 and have been geocaching ever since. For me, geocaching is about the places you get to go and the people you get to know. I created my first Wherigo in November 2008 after weeks of navigating the steep learning curve involved in creating one. Three days after it published, seven of us gathered our various electronics to share the FTF. Four of the units crashed before we reached the final. The Wherigo, GC1JPAE, is still active, but the experience discouraged me from creating additional Wherigos. Memfis Mafia’s love of Wherigos inspired me to try again. I attended the workshop he and the CFO held at Going Caching 2019 and watched Episode 174, “Let’s all Wherigo.” With Memfis’s help, I was able to publish my first Wherigo in twelve years, “ShareBear64 Walk and Talk” Wherigo, GC8GJ0Z. Frustrations with Wherigo.com inspired me to write the blog. I did publish a third Wherigo last week, but I am seriously questioning if I will do another.  If CGHQ is not supporting Wherigo, why should I?

Find gsmX2 on YouTube: Geocaching with gsmX2 – scottinojaivideos

gsmX2’s proudest geocaching moments include presenting GSAK at nine megaevents and being a member of the Core Team at Geowoodstock XV in Cincinnati aka Gigastock.

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