Imagine you're on Facebook, scrolling down your feed, past your uncle's political opinions and the vacation photos from someone you went to middle school with. Can you picture it? Are you there?
OK, now imagine you see this shiny little gem in your feed. BAM!
That could be you! Join the Catspottting Facebook group.
Catspotting is basically...Dogspotting but with cats. Makes sense, right? You're with me?
But what is Dogspotting, you ask? Fair enough!
Dogspotting is an ingenious game played via a Facebook group with over 30,000 members. It was started partially as a joke by a small group of friends from the Something Awful message boards. But in the last year or so, it blew up big-time (BuzzFeed News previously covered Dogspotting here).
The idea of Dogspotting is that you see a dog out on the street, take a photo of it, post it to the group, and get awarded "points" by your fellow users based on a variety of qualities of the photo — the difficulty of the "spot," the size and character of the dog, multiple spots, and, well, more.
Dogspotting had a bunch of strict rules about the points system. The most important rule that kept being violated was that you're not allowed to post your own dog or a friend's dog (no "own dogs" and no "known dogs"). There were more intricate rules such as if the dog spots you back, it takes all of your points, and a rule that smaller dogs got fewer points. Dogs in "shameful attire" like a tutu or hat would get negative points. When it was a small group of friends who all understood there was a bit of irony to the group, everything went smoothly. But as the group grew, many new users became frustrated that their photos of cute dogs were being awarded negative points. The comments turned into a war zone between the old guard and the newbies.
Catspotting had its roots in this fractious community. Founder Ruby Black decided that cats were just as cool as dogs and deserved their own game. She started Catspotting on Facebook about eight months ago. Afterward, she was banned from Dogspotting —she believes because of creating a rival petspotting group.
So far, the group has more than 10,000 members, and Ruby is learning the harsh reality of running a game focused on posting photos of cats seen in the wild. "I'm mostly happy with how it's going but it can be a serious nightmare dealing with some of the members," Ruby told BuzzFeed News in a Facebook message. "10k people is a lot and we only have like 5 admins and you'd be surprised how rude and entitled people can be."
We're here to help.
First, learn the rules of Catspotting:
Only post cats in places you don't expect a cat (no pet stores or cat shows, for example). A cat in a liquor store is unexpected!
Rule: no "known cats". This looks like it's probably her own cat, which is a BAD CATSPOT!
There is a point system, although it's rarely adhered to:
What's the point?
Look. Facebook can be a real bummerzone sometimes. What better to make your day a little happier when you log on than to see a random cat someone had the good fortune of spotting out on the street?
Also, you know when you're out and about, and you see a cat somewhere weird, like a deli or even just hiding across the street, looking all furtive and sneaky? And you want to take a pic of it, but it's not really Instagramworthy? (I mean, it's just some random cat.) So what do you do with it? Finally! A place to share these furtive catsnaps.
I dunno, man, the internet comes racing at you sometimes, like when you go to drink from the water fountain but it's screwed up and blasts you in the face. We all have to figure out some way to make our experience on here a little nicer. And for at least 10,000 people, that means a fun game of posting secret cat photos. There are a lot worse things out there.