Turned to the dark side......got me thinking.....

General letterboxing discussion.

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bog_baby
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Turned to the dark side......got me thinking.....

#1 Post by bog_baby » Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:03 am

OK so I have been seduced by the dark side and have started geocaching as we live 200 or so miles from Dartmoor and obviously can't get there often.
Now I appreciate the tacky trinkets, lack of skill involved, the fact that it is American etc etc etc lead people to dislike it.......but boy is it well organised!!!!
I know this is probably opening a can of worms but if there was a website listing letterbox clues (pay to join as you do for the book of clues) where people could log finding the box/if it's waterlogged/missing altogether/stamps been taken that would be really useful wouldn't it?? Updates would just be put into the website rather than having to be sent on bits of paper.
I realise it would need someone to set it all up and that might make it impossible and that there could be concerns about it becoming a money making venture.
So what do you think? Could letterboxing do with being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century or would it lose it integrity and originality by moving it online?

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#2 Post by Sowerby Streaker » Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:49 pm

In a word NO. We have enough trouble now with the LBT and thats with WOM clues as well as catalogue. If the clues were published on a website for all to see including those who are not interested, then we might as well pack our stamps and boxes away. As the 'tacky trinkets' cost nothing, so who cares if they go missing, our stamps cost a lot of money to produce, unless you have the skill to cut your own. Then there is the cost of the book. (I've seen some of the bits of paper in a Geo - again cost nothing) Then the cost of the water tight pot, and maintaining the box.

The 100 club wouldn't agree to it either, but if anyone wants to publish their own clues there is nothing to stop them. Set up a website - who is going to pay for that and as you say update it - invite people to publish their own clues and away you go. Not for me though. I've had 6 boxes stolen last year without publishing the clues :cry: :cry:

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#3 Post by Dartymoor » Sun Feb 19, 2012 6:45 am

Hi Bog.

I suspect this could get heated, as I do know some boxers have very strong (and perhaps intolerant?) views about geocaching, although I don't know why. The two co-exist very happily, it's just some people view the upstart so negatively. Yes, there are crap geocaches with just some lined paper, but there are also well stocked, well placed and well housed with proper logbooks and ingenious and well made containers. There's lots of crap letterboxes out there too, leaky chinese takeaway tubs with some damp paper and a foam stamp of a star peeling off its backing... People of all abilities place caches and boxes alike and don't maintain them. They are different but similar in many many ways.

I do both, but am doing more and more caching than boxing, bar the odd charity walk when the missis can be bothered!

I also like the organised aspect of caching. Knowing that the cache has been found recently, or not. Whereas with letterboxing it's much more hit and miss. I've found that boxes in the book with 8 or 10 digit references are very very unreliable - around half I attempted in 2011 were missing. Without any structured way of feedback, the letterbox owner has no way short of going and checking that their box is ok, and it could stay in the book for years even when it's gorne.

I'm also a solo walker 90% of the time. That means I don't have (or particularly want!) the social side of letterboxing, so WOM clues aren't going to fall in my lap and I'm left with the unreliable public clues which don't encourage me to keep trying.

I don't get this hate towards geocaching. Letterboxing is more noticable to the public in my view due to the "kids boxes" littering several tors. Geocaching won't allow you to place two boxes closer than 0.1 mile so you don't get that density, plus they are more maintained (than the kids boxes, I'm NOT talking about the long established letterboxes with hand carved stamps which are a joy to find further away from the roads). GC also has strict rules on allowing caches on sites that don't want them - large tracts of the moor are owned by specialist nature organisations that don't want geocaching (Trendlebeer, for example) and without proof of permission you can't list things there. Those agencies may also not want letterboxes, but nobody needs to ask them. In addition to that, Geocaches on the moor also need to abide by the Dartmoor National Park Letterbox Code of Conduct.

The LBT also clears geocaches when sweeping an area, but because of the notification system, the cache owner knows quicker than the letterbox owner (unless by chance not found by a friend or themself).

As for your suggestion of listing them, it's already there! Create a letterbox. Fix the stamp to the box and mark clearly that it's not to be taken as a swap by cachers. List it as a letterbox in the usual way and then list as a letterbox hybrid geocache. There are quite a few out like this already and have been for years without incident.

Rather than viewing caches as a negative, why not consider the chance that they may inspire new letterboxers into the fold? For myself, both provide inspiration and structure to get me out walking and exploring parts of the moor and devon that I wouldn't otherwise see.

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#4 Post by UniS » Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:16 pm

there are some websites with letterbox clues listed. Mainly american letterboxing dominated. So far I've found 1 such box on the moor (hello from the moon) , and I didn't find the clue till after I'd found the box... Mind you, I'd never have found it with that clue as the clue setter seems to have confused oke castle with Row Tor.
Wheres it to ?

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#5 Post by Nik - KOTM » Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:34 am

There were many "letterboxes" all over the world, however, letterboxing is an english thing. No offence to our American cousins, but I think they were jealous as they didn't invent the hobby... so they introduced Geocaching. I am not interested in geocaching, but I am not going to stop anyone from following their hobby - that is upto them.
I started boxing before the internet, so clues were only available by "direct contact" be it via the 100 club or with other WOM boxers. This allowed an element of control and self policing. The system worked.
There was a time when it was considered putting the catalogue on line. But, there would have been no way to police it. As you know many sites are hacked and information is corrupted and this wouldn't have been practical. We all know about the DLT, and this would make the theif impossible to track down. Remember a letterboxer had to find their first 100 boxes before being allowed to have a catalogue - perhaps this should be re-introduced?
WOM clues only used to be available via the owner and a perhaps a photocopier if you knew someone who had the clues - god help you if you got caught with an unauthorised set of clues like I did once! The internet makes it far too easy to exchange clues and makes it far too easy for the "wrong people" to get hold of the clues.
There is no right way or wrong way of setting out the letterbox clues. But having to get the book every year makes it much more of community, and why change a system that works? OK updates are available as an email, but not for everyone to use.... only those who have paid in the past
Now that gives me an idea... I might get back to you on this one if I can get it off the ground...
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#6 Post by Sowerby Streaker » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:11 am

Nik quoted "only those who have paid in the past "

This still applies today and is very controlled, due to the 2 letterboxing programs that people have. You can pay 40p (I think) for an update to be emailed to you, not a lot of money if you pay for 6 months at the meet. If you run one of the letterboxing programs, either Mike Holidays or Malcoms then you still have to pay 40p for the update to be sent in the form of a program update that can be loaded straight into your program. These updates are monitored and if you go to the meet you will find Malcolm there with his laptop with all your details on whether you are upto date with your payments or not. Well worth the 40p to save sitting here typing all the info into the program :lol:

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#7 Post by Dartymoor » Tue Feb 21, 2012 7:20 am

Nik - I don't think having the list online would lead to more boxes being nicked.

I'm not suggesting the system is changed, that's up to the club to vote and act if they see fit and I'd fully expect them not to change the status quo, which is absolutely fine - "Online details and a box on the moor" is already covered pretty well for us that enjoy that sort of thing. But the book is publically available and it's clear that the extra hassle of visiting Lee Moor or buying it by post has not prevented thefts.

I'm sure all of us have built our own mental profiles of the LBT (or group of LBTs), but we're all just guessing why they do it - but it IS clear they put a lot of effort into disrupting our hobbies and I'm sure they think they're justified in doing so. Also that on occasion they just target a specific area and clear it of everything, and in those cases, clues don't matter - just how well hidden it is (although knowing a listed box is there may encourage harder searching). Nor did clues published anywhere prevent Sowerby's six boxes being stolen. A minority of people dislike letterboxing to such a degree that they believe their opinion is worth more than the majority who either do, or don't care either way to the extent they enjoy sabotaging it. Sad, but it's not because of where the clues are published.

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#8 Post by Nik - KOTM » Tue Feb 21, 2012 7:29 am

There is the other problem with not everyone is online, and to print a smaller run of catalogues would cost more per unit.
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#9 Post by bog_baby » Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:13 pm

Thanks for all the interesting replies, I thought people may be a lot more hostile in their responses. The LBT/LBTs cause a lot of problems for letterboxers :( I was wondering (not in the case of when a farmer clears an area for example) but when Sowerby's six boxes went missing for example was each area cleared? Or does the LBT seem to be after particular stamps, ie those of high quality? Assuming your stamps are high quality Sowerby 8) :wink:
Also can anyone tell me anything about the letterboxing programs and how they work?

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#10 Post by MagicHarry » Wed Feb 22, 2012 8:54 pm

Bog_baby, I think some of your comments are spot on. We all know and understand the history of LetterBoxing and the great fun and challenge it brings to folk. The issue I have with LetterBoxing is that it is not regulated in anyway. Often there are too many in the same location or very close and the challenge is lost of finding them. Boxes go missing or are water logged and not maintained for months and months, which is very disappointing when you've found the location, but no box, or a box that is in a real mess.
Geocaching is regulated and you have to obtain permission to place the box, does anyone obtain permission to place the LetterBox??
There is no such thing as the LBT by the way, this is a myth. Quite often the box owner has mis-recorded the location and on one occassion I saw some frisky foxes "kicking" around one of those Pill Box containers, so even the wildlife are getting fed up of all the items, both LetterBoxes and Geocaches, being poked in their homes.... With regards of publishing the clues online, is a only a matter of time when someone does, who's going to stop them?? I have all the clues for all recorded boxes on a database and could very easily drop these online and charge £nil for folk to get hold of them, clearly I wouldn't because what's the point. I'd prefer there to be say a couple of hundred boxes to leave the real challenge and adventure of letterboxing, just like the old days!!! anyway, that's my views, but everyone has their own thoughts and I look forward to any responses to this....
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#11 Post by Kenton Kestrel » Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:19 pm

'There is no such thing as the LBT by the way, this is a myth. Quite often the box owner has mis-recorded the location and on one occassion I saw some frisky foxes "kicking" around one of those Pill Box containers...'



With the use now of GPS there must be an awful lot of box owners mis-recording the location of their boxes that have 'gone missing' each year!

Also the 'frisky fox' population on the moor must be on the increase to account for the number of boxes that have gone.

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#12 Post by Sowerby Streaker » Thu Feb 23, 2012 7:57 am

bog_baby wrote:when Sowerby's six boxes went missing for example was each area cleared? Or does the LBT seem to be after particular stamps, ie those of high quality? Assuming your stamps are high quality Sowerby 8) :wink:
Also can anyone tell me anything about the letterboxing programs and how they work?
I can assure you each time one of my boxes has been 'stolen' several in the area have also gone. I checked on my box on Stone tor when walking out to Teignhead Farm, then the next week was informed it had gone along with quite a few on Manga Hill. Of course this is only a myth, and we all mis-recoreded them, even though quite a few boxers had also misread the clues and found them earlier, and the hole the box was in was empty!! :roll:
I can assure you my stamps are high quality - not hand carved as I'm not that talented. They are individual artist drawn stamps professionally made and Dartmoor related. Thats why its so upsetting to have them stolen.

To Magic Harry - I wouldn't go down the route of putting all those clues on the web if the boxes don't belong to you. That could be classed as theft :twisted: As for charging £x for the clues - a few years back a man tried this. He put notices up in the pubs around Dartmoor telling people he would take them on a letterboxing walk and to join him at a starting point. When people got there he charged them all a fee, then proceeded to take them up to Great Mis tor, giving them a set of clues and showing them where the boxes were. Needless to say shortly after this most of the boxes were stolen!. He was politley warned off by the 'powers that be' and didn't try it again. Enough said. All the boxes whether catalogue or WOM belong to their owners. The clues to those boxes belong to the owners and therefore it is up to them and not others where they want their clues to go. If I found someone had published my clues, I would certainly take steps to make sure they were taken off the web and also just go out and move them all :x I put boxes out for people to find them and to take pleasure when walking the moor to get to their location. The last thing anyone wants is to walk quite a distance, then find the box has been stolen.

Can I ask if you have gone to the trouble of siting any boxes?????

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#13 Post by MagicHarry » Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:33 am

SS - My comment was raising the point of how easily someone could pop the clues on the web and who could really stop this, I have no intention on doing so - as I've spend many years systemising this and would there's no way I'm sharing this with all and sundry. I've developed a programme where you simply pop in grid ref, all boxes and clues within that area are shown, plus all Geo Caches (+hints) and all other points of interest, including crosses, clappers, standing\boundary stones and of course nearest pub.

I'm all for the traditional letterboxes, but all the other tat needs regulating, just as is Geo Caches. Permissions should be granted for all boxes.

Anyway, enough said....
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#14 Post by Sowerby Streaker » Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:59 am

O.K. I understand now - intrigued by your program - are you running it on an excel spreadsheet???

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#15 Post by bog_baby » Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:40 pm

Sowerby I can assure you I was kidding about the quality of your stamps :D and that it wasn't me that suggested you didn't know where you put your own boxes :shock: That was all MagicHarry's doing - don't be too harsh though as I think he may be my biggest fan - I'm just hoping he's young, dashing and has pots of money :lol: ........oh and that he'll lend me his database, just so I can makesure he hasn't missed anything out of course!!!!

Loving that frisky foxes imagery :) we definately need to keep you on this board Magic harry. I certainly believe in the LBT though as I've heard about charity walks disappearing very soon after they've been sold at the meet. Mind you I believe in Father Christmas so what can you do.....

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