Survey complete and shared on Facebook (Central Ontario Geocachers FB group).
It seems to me that most active geocachers (which I will define as player that find at least 5 caches per week) will tell you they are NOT in it for the numbers, but from where I stand I would say most of the active geocaches are driven by numbers more than anything. It's one of the reasons they stick to one site, because finding caches here will not add to their numbers. I am convinced of this, and I would bet my house than if groundspeak changed their system to no longer show find numbers or stats, that within a year most will stop caching (ignoring of course other mechanisms such as project-gc). Yet any conversations in FB groups about numbers and they all say that they are not in it for the numbers. But then 850 roadside caches get published in Ontario in one day and gets what everyone is talking about?
Anyway, I have to wonder if the same phenomena (at least the one I believe to exist) will also be a factor in this survey. Who is going to answer that they willingly damage the environment to get a cache, and yet it is happening. And here is where I respectfully disagree with Manville, because using a PMO is not going to reduce the damage - it's the caching-for-numbers PMs that are causing the damage. Don't understand me here - it's not a few bad players doing the damage, it's the steady stream of players and the cumulative impacts of each. At least that's what I've seen to be the common case. For example, there's been many times where a cache is hidden in a tree and I can tell exactly what tree based on all the wear on the bark from multiple cachers climbing the same tree.
These are just the caches that are close to the parking area/trailhead -- the ones with the significant uphill hikes look great.
this just supports what I said above - it's about "who" finds the cache so much as "how many" - put it further away and less will visit and there will be less damage.
Obviously a PhD dissertation will go far beyond a introspective survey. I'm keen to learn more about your research, particularly in terms of real measures of impacts. Do you have any publications yet on this topic, or online posters/presentations? Thanks.