Friday, August 19, 2011

I Has a Krud

Home from work today due to krud. Ugly summer krud. Not pleased.

On that subject,, the premier website of my favorite avocation—which, if you frequent this blog, you surely know all about—has succumbed to krud as well. Krud of the brain, I'm pretty sure. The series of site updates over the past few months have steadily decreased its user-friendliness, and yesterday's update appears to have been solely intended to piss off the geocaching community. Now, if you're not a cacher, this will mean nothing to you, so forgive my choice of topic. But today, I'd rather be pissed off about geocaching than politics, the economy, publishing, and other subjects of broader scope. Just because.

Back when I started caching, in early 2008, was as user-friendly as a site could be, and it—along with the geocachers I met because of it—drew me into the game with all kinds of enthusiasm. This year, in particular, Groundspeak, the company that runs the website, seems to have forgotten that it created and nurtured a wonderful community of people who share a love of caching, and that a large number of them—myself included—pay for premium memberships. Without any regard for their very substantial core base, Groundspeak has taken to implementing changes that significantly and objectively undermine the site's usefulness and even diminish the essence of the game. Yesterday's unveiling of "challenges," which are a completely different animal than geocaching itself but that count toward a player's total cache finds, has drawn significant negative but constructive feedback—the most reasonable of which was summarily gunned down by Groundspeak founder and CEO Jeremy Irish. I find Groundspeak's demeaning attitude reprehensible, and it really is symptomatic of many businesses who have grown too big for their britches and lost touch with the people who made them successful in favor of superficial glitter, probably in hopes of drawing in unsuspecting newbies.

The geocaching community is a community...a vital one...and is not Facebook. It should not be styled after Facebook, and god in heaven, it should not be run like Facebook. In Groundspeak's own words, their people "got together in a room to brainstorm what should be done for the site going forward." That's what we call "in a vacuum," Mr. Irish. The ire on the feedback forums is, in my experience, unprecedented. Get a freaking clue, sir. Listen to those who've put you where you are and respect them. And fashion your product accordingly.

There. That's Damned Rodan's kruddy rant for the day. Hope you are feeling better than I am.

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