November AMA - Your questions, answered!
Thanks so much for your great questions and your patience as we navigated the US Thanksgiving holiday to bring you answers to your top 30 questions: split into the top voted 15 general questions and 15 criteria-specific questions.
I have done my best to paraphrase the question (as many of them were asked multiple times) to get the core point across.
And away we go!
Can a “Watermark” photo rejection option be added to Photo reviews to align with that rejection reason?
- This is a great idea. For now, you can use the ‘Third Party Photo’ rejection for photos containing a watermark. We are looking into splitting this out as its own rejection reason.
Can you provide guidance around avoiding game-specific references in titles and descriptions to preempt nominations being rejected for low quality title/descriptions?
- This is a good suggestion and something we’ve been meaning to implement. We’ll investigate adding this to the nomination process or booting them out of the queue before you see them.
When will “Generic Business” be removed as a nomination rejection reason? Following the criteria relaunch, the guidelines around businesses are much broader and many formerly “generic” businesses now qualify.
- We already have this slated for release! It will either be removed in the first release of 2021 (3.4 in mid-Jan)!
What is being done to curb incorrect rejections for nominations that meet all of the criteria? Will there be a way to escalate incorrect rejections directly to the Niantic team for re-review?
- Firstly, we are in the midst of redesigning the nomination review process to make the review process smoother for reviewers and also to cut down on these incorrect rejections. Also on the horizon, although a bit further out, is adding appeals directly into Wayfarer. With regard to escalating incorrect rejections directly to Niantic, this is something that we’re thinking through. It’s a bit complex as we don’t want to enable correct rejections to be escalated so it’s still a work in progress.
Will Edits (title, description, location, etc.) be added to the Wayfarer Nominations page so that Explorers can keep track of these requests? The email confirmations don’t contain enough information to know which request they’re referring to.
- This is a good idea, we’re in the process of planning some of our releases for 2021, so this is something that we’ll discuss. The issue of emails is also on our list of components to review and improve for 2021.
Can more awareness of Wayfarer be spread through in-game announcements and game-specific social media posts? Not only would this help spread awareness of the work that Explorers do but it will also open the door to more contributions by interested players.
- This is a good question, we are absolutely talking about ways that we can recognize and celebrate the contributions that Explorers make to all Niantic Apps. The biggest challenge with this specific suggestion is the sheer amount of things happening in all of our apps and not every player is eligible to contribute, while all of them are eligible to participate in in-app events or initiatives.
Are there plans to add feedback into the review system to allow nominators to know more about the specific reason that their suggestion was rejected?
- This is a suggestion that we’ve heard before and that we’re exploring. The tricky part of this is how to add rejection information for nominators without increasing the burden on reviewers. With that in mind, we are working on improving the feedback look for both nominators and reviewers to make sure that feedback is shared to improve both ends of the process.
What is being done to update the “report an invalid Wayspot” process? As it stands, there’s limited ability to add additional details or photos and it’s a very burdensome and frustrating process to submit reports and to see abusive nominations be added as Wayspots.
- Adding support for additional information, including a supporting photo, to your report is something that we’re thinking of adding but it’s a bit off (think second half of 2021). One of the reasons for that is that we are going to do some spring cleaning for accepted Wayspots that very clearly don’t meet the current criteria, specifically regarding inappropriate language and game references in titles/descriptions. That being said, our system will never be 100% perfect to blocking fakes, which is why we look to the community to help augment our efforts in this regard by submitting appeals right here in the forum with the necessary information.
Explorers in one region will sometimes see nominations that have titles and/or descriptions in languages they don’t understand. Even with translation tools, it can be difficult to get a clear translation. What is being done to address this?
- This is feedback that we’ve heard before and, especially as we consider future events similar to the Poland Wayfarer Challenge, something that we’re looking into.
Why isn’t “should this be a Wayspot?” the last question asked during the review process? Moving it to the end will prompt reviewers to slow down and spend time looking at the details of the nomination.
- One of the features of the review redesign is the straight up removal of this often confusing question. The goal of our redesign is to format the review process as questions that speak very clearly to the updated eligibility and acceptance criteria. The rating system as-is is very open to interpretation and we’ve already seen many Explorers approaching it from different perspectives.
How are you surfacing the revised criteria for Explorers who aren’t as active in the forum?
- We’re working on a number of initiatives aimed at clarifying the new criteria, including the second part of this AMA, linking the criteria directly in the Wayfarer interface and adding contextual help to make sure information gets to reviewers when and where they need it. The idea of proactively notifying Explorers that the criteria has been relaunched is a good idea as well and is something that we’re working on currently..
Has any thought been given to requiring a nomination exam before “unlocking” the ability to suggest new Wayspots?
- On deck after we launch the revised reviewer experience is to review the entire nomination submission process, including exploring ways to proactively surface the criteria during the nomination process to make it more visible among other things. The idea of an exam for nominators is something that we’ve explored, but ultimately feels a bit too restrictive and could be a significant blocker for nominations and limit not just the bad ones but potential gems as well. That being said, we have a few initiatives in development that will help to improve the quality of submissions.
Since URLs have been confirmed as being good contributions to supporting information, can a separate field be added for URLs or exempt them from the character count in this field?
- Good call out, thanks for the suggestion! Definitely supportive of this change, we’ll look into the work that’s required and add it to our 2021 roadmap.
Are there any plans to address the severe backlog that exists in certain communities?
- Yes! This was one of the issues that we hoped to address with the Poland Wayfarer Challenge, to assess whether a reviewing event tied to in-app rewards would help clear out backlogs in certain areas. We’re currently reviewing the progress from this event and will share our takeaways soon. Beyond this, we’re also exploring some backend / technical ways to address this.
The forum has gotten a bit messy and Explorers often face long waits before getting official responses from the Wayfarer team. What’s being done to address this?
- Thanks for your feedback, and I’m sorry to hear that folks are feeling ignored or unappreciated. Please trust that this is not the case. We’re exploring the possibility of expanding the forum team to better support the folks here. One of our big initiatives for the end of the year is to clean up and clear out the bug reports subcategory to start fresh for 2021.
Can you clarify the definition of “private residential property?” Are multi-family residences included in this rejection reason? What about Wayspots that are within 40m of a private residence?
- The considerations when looking at private residential property have not changed with the criteria refresh. Considering that multi-family residences like apartment complexes can have publicly accessible amenities (like playground equipment), these could still be eligible as long as they meet all of the acceptance criteria. Nominations that appear to be within 40m of private, single-family residential property should be very closely reviewed to make sure they are not on private residential property, and that they are accessible from locations not on private residential property.
How does “publicly accessible” apply to locations that have limited access, like members-only clubs, gated communities, time-restricted areas?
- Just like with the definition of private residential property, this guideline hasn’t changed. These locations would still be eligible, including restricted areas on the grounds of a company’s headquarters or behind locked gates so long as there wouldn’t be objections to you entering the area and the location is accessible to some folks. We do not expect all players to have access to all locations but we strongly recommend following real-world rules while attempting to access locations.
What constitutes “safe pedestrian access” to a location?
- Safe Pedestrian Access denotes the player is able to access the object in question by walking up to it without putting themselves into potential danger. Objects in pedestrian areas, along sidewalks or paths or in parks/fields are great examples of eligible locations. Ineligible examples include objects on roundabouts or in traffic dividers that do not have a sidewalk/pathway leading to it.
How close to the actual object or location should the pin be dropped in the nomination?
- Since the main goal for Niantic apps, and therefore what the Wayspots should facilitate, is to explore and discover new locations around you, the marker pin should be on top of the object nominated. Submitters can verify the location selected before they submit the nomination but purposely moving the pin to manipulate a specific app’s gameboard is not allowed.
The new criteria lists hiking trails and biking trails as eligible examples under a great place for exercise. Are there any additional requirements for these locations to be eligible (e.g. survey markers, trail signs or other man-made objects)? Do they need to be named trails or paths?
- While this criteria is much more inclusive than before, there would still need to be some sort of visual indicator of the Wayspot. This is because you're dropping a pin on the map and since trails are long and linear, you'd want to direct players to a safe location somewhere along that trail that's easy to find and safe to access. This would apply to trail markers, survey markers, trail signs, etc.
Natural features were previously explicitly excluded from eligibility but are now listed as examples of good Wayspots. Can you provide more information about any requirements for these locations?
- Good question! It’s true that these are now up for consideration as eligible Wayspots. Famous waterfalls and lagoons, or popular cenotes and lakes are great places to explore. When considering these, think about whether there’s a specific location you can direct people to: a sign, an informational board, etc. Additionally, think about whether this natural feature is “just a random rock/tree” (which would be a poor nomination) or whether it’s a named feature with a famous backstory and/or a history (a great nomination!).
With the criteria refresh, how has that change affected how reviewers should consider swimming pools?
- Similar to before the criteria refresh, swimming pools at private residences or hotels (or other similar residentially-focused locations) are ineligible. Other than that, pools would be a great place to meet and that encourages exercise and should be considered eligible. This includes public pools, pools or training complexes with historical context, reflecting pools, fountains, aquatic centers and cooldown centers, university pools, sport arenas/complexes and more.
Since not all Niantic apps show every accepted Wayspot, how should submitters check to make sure that a potential Wayspot doesn’t already exist?
- Not a great answer here but do your best to avoid submitting a duplicate by checking both Ingress and Pokémon GO apps. We won’t fault you if you submit something that has been accepted but doesn’t appear in your app of choice, as long as you don’t continually submit the same nomination over and over. This is something that we’re working on building into the nomination flow to reduce the number of duplicated Wayspots being submitted.
What is considered “influencing reviewers” when thinking about abuse of the Wayfarer system?
- Pointing to official sources like the Wayfarer forum or the Help Center shouldn’t be considered influencing any more than including a link to a source that helps better contextualize the nomination. “Influencing” could be anything that calls for the reviewer to consider acting against the criteria. For example, including personal information in nominations or straight up asking for a specific result (e.g. “rate this 5 stars”) would be abusive and potentially result in removal of the Wayspot and/or disciplinary action taken on your account.
What clarifications from the previous AMAs should be disregarded?
- The criteria refresh was intended to be just that, a refresh. We found that there was simply too much historical knowledge for reviewers to hold onto to be reliable and to make the review process simple and enjoyable. The current criteria has been drafted to include references to clarifications that are intended to carry over, but in general these guidelines are broader because we’re trying to make things less restrictive without sacrificing quality of Wayspots.
With the updated criteria, there was a promise to rereview previously rejected nominations that may meet the updated requirements. How will that work?
- While this is a big effort, we are already working on reviewing past rejections starting with the Generic Business category. Keep an eye on the forum for updates on other efforts related to this initiative.
What is considered “spamming inappropriate nominations?”
- This guideline is specific to users who are continually submitting nominations that are explicitly against the criteria or called out in the rejection criteria. We understand that some good nominations get rejected without good reasons and resubmitting those with better supporting information or a stronger argument for inclusion would not be considered abuse or spam.
Playgrounds have long been a source of debate among nominators and reviewers alike, can you clarify when they should be accepted vs. rejected?
- Playground equipment in parks or other public places are great candidates for inclusion. Not only are they great places to meet and be social but they also can encourage exercise! There are a few notable exceptions to this though, playgrounds on K-12 / primary and secondary schools are ineligible. Additionally, individual pieces of playground equipment that are submitted separately are not eligible, even though the playground at large may be. Rather, the individual pieces of equipment should be marked as duplicates to there’s just the one Wayspot for the whole playground.
Non-grave memorials and buildings in cemeteries: Eligible or not eligible? (15)
- Private places of mourning such as individual gravestones or mausoleums are generally too sensitive to be eligible. However, any locations in cemeteries that have become public attractions are eligible. This would include memorials for famous individuals, historical chapels, and government historical markers.
Can you explain what “providing an advantage to a single player/collective group” means?
- We definitely understand that there are some strategically placed Wayspots that are critical for competitive play in Niantic apps, including areas that have restricted or limited access. This doesn’t apply to those locations. This guideline is about curbing abuse by Explorers who are attempting to make their Niantic app of choice easier to play by submitting fake or misleading nominations. In general, follow the criteria and help your fellow player explore interesting real-world locations in your cities and you should be fine.
Thanks so much for all of the great and challenging questions! I also want to thank you for all of your hard work and support throughout this year. Personally, being a part of this community has been a really interesting and rewarding experience and I’m so grateful for all of you who are here and active and supporting each other and the product!
Best wishes and happy holidays from the whole Niantic Wayfarer team!! Have a wonderful end to 2020 and we have much to look forward to in 2021!!