Groundspeak is on well on it’s way to curtail any creativity or initiative which prevents the involvement in a whole lot of red tape that makes our sport less attractive.
You’ll surely remember my enthusiasm about Greasemonkey scripts like GC vote, VIP list and GC Tour. It could be that all this be gone very soon, certainly when you read these forum posts where one states that scripts like GC Tour are illegal, since it ‘scrapes’ data from the GS servers and thus a violation of the TOS. If one asks for alternatives, one states that Pocket Queries and Bookmask lists will do the job. Excuse me, but I’ve never read such a load of crap. This nonsense is only meant to force people to have Premium Membership. But since I am a Premium Member, I wonder whether or not I’m allowed to use these scripts or not.
Let’s face it, the gc.com isn’t able to offer what GC Tour can: making a list of caches you want to tackle, export it and print it the way one wants (in an environmental way). It even doesn’t offer a proper search engine. Let’s look at the so called alternative: paying for a PM in order to use PQs and pay a GSAK license. Emptying my wallet doesn’t give me a script which does everything you can with GC Tour and left with assuagement. With all due respect for the creators of GSAK annex scripts, but I challenge you to find or create a script which does everything GC Tour is able to. I wish you good luck with it.
Even if you do have found/create a similar script, GS prevents you to fetch the latest data for a cache since it prohibits the use of scripts like RefreshAllGPX. Apparently the has been some embezzlement and the reaction is not only a ban of the wrongdoer(s) but also the demand for removal of the script. What kind of reaction is this? That’s the same as banning all cars on a road since there is an excessive use of the road. What’s the meaning of excessive use anyway? 100 cars, 10 artics, …
How far can GS go with all this anyway? The existential sentence of Groundspeak relies on our input since they don’t author any caches. Regardless from the caches by GS employees, all the work – authoring, reviewing, maintenance, etc. – is done by volunteers outside the company. All GS does is ‘host’ the data with ups and (much) downs. One asks money if you want to retrieve your (and other’s) data and even says that you can’t do it in a proper way. Something they don’t provide. Instead one launches ideas and does nothing with it: the Wherigo player and Builder (still in Alpha) isn’t updated since May 2008! Or what about an application on a device where you will suffer in your pocket, not only for getting the software but also for using it.
Let the cobbler stick to his last and focus on the main goal: hosting caching data and providing a proper and user friendly way to retrieve it for free. As long as one doesn’t come near the functionality of scripts like GC Vote, VIP List and GC Tour one puts oneself out of court and one doesn’t have any right to prohibit the installation and the use of it.
There are different solutions regarding the PQs problem. First of all, one should also provide the information about the archived caches. Secondly, one should increment the 5 PQs/day or the caches/PQ limit. An average Belgian geocacher needs 12 PQs: 10 for the caches in the country, 1 for the hides and 1 for the finds. One needs 3 days in order to obtain the information in the way Groundspeak wants you to. I read regularly that people have multiple Premium Memberships in order to by-pass these obstacles. I don’t see GS complain about any excessive use when it comes to this. So why not introduce additional membership types. There are different approaches: flat fees with limits on the usage or why not some kind of cloud membership (inspired by cloud hosting) where you pay for your usage.
Speaking of, as mentioned before things can be solved with creative solutions like Cloud hosting, grid hosting, etc. But it’s difficult to obtain any hearing. It seems to be easier to shoot the messenger. Maybe someday one even bans people – without servile obedience – writing blogs about things. I’m sure one will find a stick as excuse to beat the dog.