End of Summer Lookback (long update!)

[Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0 ✭✭

Hello Wayfarer Explorers!

As we approach the end of the summer, we wanted to reflect upon recent work and impacts to you, and review our roadmap for the upcoming winter season.

But first, please let me introduce myself! I'm the Product Manager for Niantic Wayfarer and I look forward to bringing you product updates directly moving forward! Why am I introducing myself now? Quite honestly, I have been a tad nervous about doing so. I am human and I know how busy it can get on the frontlines with the community, on top of all of the back-of-house work we do - but I am totally committed to working with you all on reshaping what Wayfarer can be 1, 3, 5 years and beyond! Please note that I'll be more of an observer here in the forum, but know that I do review your feedback with NianticTintino on a regular basis.

About me!

In my previous life I was an urban planner both in the private and public sectors writing policy, talking urban design, master planning and parks planning. I then transitioned to the geographic information sciences/geomatics field where I worked on major infrastructure projects (like urban sustainability, rail, bridges, airports). I enjoy ceramics (mostly hand building) and traveling. I’ve lived in Canada, US, Netherlands, and Argentina. I can get by in basic Korean, Spanish, and Dutch in that order of capability 😅 - Anything we have in common?

Ok, now let’s look at what we mentioned in July’s update.

Recent Infrastructure Work

On 8/11/2021 we rolled out Wayfarer 4.0 which for the most part didn’t come with any new features or major feature updates. We do note that some bugs slipped our radar, and apologize for the inconvenience that has caused. We’re working hard to triage and push fixes out as soon as possible. Appreciate your patience on this! Please note that we do not test features against any third-party plug-ins you might use on your browser of choice. 

Bug fixes we pushed out on 8/19/2021 prior to 4.1 release:

  • Fixing missing StreetView pegman in the Review page. 
  • Fixing maps not rendering in the review page on iOS

Upcoming bug fixes in Wayfarer 4.1 (target release date 9/8/2021)

  • Location accuracy map will display existing Wayspots, StreetView and isometric ‘tilt’ view option
  • StreetView should not render as blank in Location accuracy map
  • Auto scroll will no longer trigger when suggesting a new location or resetting the location card
  • Cookie bar should now render in the correct language
  • Increasing the size of the rating stars ⭐️ in the Review page
  • Upgrade Next should no longer appear on a decided Wayspot nomination
  • Fixes to StreetView in the Wayfarer Quiz
  • Fixes to log out flow
  • Fixes to hidden Duplicates map at certain locations
  • Updated attribution consent language (to reflect that the attribution consent toggle will affect all Niantic products including Wayfarer)
  • More UX polishing for mobile

Team, Events, Features

  • Team changes: Yes, we grew! After NianticCasey had transitioned to another Niantic team, we welcomed NianticTintino to the Wayfarer squad! 
  • Future events: You voted on which of our shortlisted countries should have a Wayfarer Challenge next, and we decided to host it in Brazil ! 🇧🇷 We loved engaging you in the decision-making process and will continue to do so moving forward for the Wayfarer Challenges. Stay tuned for details on the upcoming event.
  • More educational content in more places: We shared a lightweight new infographic on what makes a great Wayspot. What infographic should we work on next?
  • New features: See the ‘what’s cooking’ section below. 
  • Rewiring the onboarding flow: See the ‘what’s cooking’ section below. 
  • Nomination Management: See the ‘what’s cooking’ section below. 
  • Email notifications: See the ‘what’s cooking’ section below.  
  • Reviewers: See the ‘what’s cooking’ section below.  
  • Community Forum: We’re still testing out a few quality of life improvements for the forum as well and will be rolling out a few small but impactful changes

What’s Cooking

As we noted in July, while our engineers were working to refactor the site in the first half of the year, I was busy pouring over lengthy community feedback, and developing a crisper roadmap for Wayfarer’s future. Many of you responded to our survey and candidly shared comments about the good, bad and the ugly. I read them all.

Here’s a broad breakdown of what we heard vs. what the team is planning to deliver over the next 6-9 months, loosely in the order that they will be delivered. We can’t give you an exact ship date yet as the work is actively being scoped out. 

“Fix the system!” ⚙️

We looked deeply into this problem and believe that it’s actually two separate challenges. One is around a lack of broad understanding of the purpose and mission of the Wayfarer program (which cascades confusion across the product), and the other is actually a paradigm shift on how the product helps you improve as a contributor (see “Help me succeed!” below). 

For understanding of purpose:

  • New User Orientation: We’ll be funneling all new users to the Wayfarer website first, where they’ll experience a simple stepwise orientation of the program that eventually leads to the Wayfarer quiz. Once folks pass the quiz, both the in-game submission and website review features will be unlocked for them. This will only affect new or lapsed Explorers (e.g. 6 months from the date this feature is shipped). Also note that, following several other improvements noted below, we will be reconsidering the use of a quiz for orientation purposes. 
  • New branding on Notification Emails: We know the emails have been historically bogged down with bugs - there are dependencies we built into the emails that are a bit unstable which we’d like to eliminate. Our refresh will mean replacing game email notifications with Wayfarer email notifications, with links back to your Nominations page (as your source of truth). We’re also updating the language in the emails to resolve the confusion and conflation of ‘eligibility’ and ‘accepted’ in our messaging, which are not the same concepts. We hope this also clarifies that contributions are to the Niantic Platform, for all Niantic games to consider using. 

“Show me my impact!” 👀

We hear you - You want to feel like you’re accomplishing meaningful exploration goals, and that your contributions add value to your experiences with Niantic games or the community at large. It’s pretty cool to play games where you can also shape the gameboard, right? You’ve put in the legwork and you should be given more agency to manage your contributions.

  • New Features for Contribution Management: The “Nominations” page will be renamed “Contributions”, and will see many new features that we think you’ll love. In particular, more control over how your Upgrades are applied, appealing your rejected nominations, and tracking the status and impact of all your contribution types (e.g. edits, nominations, photo submissions). Think of this as your Explorer archives and your one-stop-shop for tracking your impact across Niantic games. We’re actually really excited about the concept of an archive of your adventures and are already researching more ways to evolve the Contribution Management experience next year. 

“Help me succeed!” 🙌

We are looking at shifting the paradigm on how the product helps you as a contributor. It was never the intention for the program to feel punitive for what is supposed to be a collaborative and collective activity where differences of opinion are allowed. Nor do we like the fact that the experience can feel ‘rigged’. There is no real right or wrong/black and white answer when the question being asked is ‘Is this a great place for exploration, exercise, or being social’. Our cultures, opinions, and interests are diverse and can change over time. That means you may feel your contributions are rejected for illogical reasons. Wayfarer should have mechanisms to dialogue with Niantic so that the fairest choice possible can be made in the interest of all stakeholders. 

  • Feedback on appeals: Part of the appeals experience mentioned above will include direct feedback from Niantic on Niantic’s final decision. This does mean we need more real people to work with you (no bots!) so please bear with us as we sort out what we can achieve in terms of processing time when we first launch it. 
  • Practice-based ratings: We’d rather everyone learn to succeed by practice-based learning rather than defining your success only on final outcomes like quiz passes or nomination decisions. We’re brainstorming how best to measure how much you practice, and how that should impact your rating.

“Make Wayfarer an app!” 🤳

We know there’s room for improvement when it comes to addressing how psychologically different it can feel when using a responsive web-app vs. a native app. Most of you experience Wayfarer on your mobile phones and expect more of a native app experience. We’ve heard this request in the wild for some time, so we’re assessing it very carefully, including possible new features that would be better supported by a native app, making it an indispensable companion for your real-world adventures. 

Continuing to collect your feedback

We know there’s a lot more to do under each bucket, such as addressing the extremely long wait times for a decision on a submission; reworking the often confusing review questions; and adding features that make submissions and reviews more fun to do in groups. We’ll share more once these product plans are finalized!

With that in mind, we’ll be sending out quarterly surveys to a random selection of the community to capture sentiment in a more consistent and measurable way. Please be on the lookout for that, we appreciate all of your ongoing feedback to make Wayfarer better! We’re also looking into the best mechanism to collect your feature ideas/suggestions in a structured way. So be on the lookout for that too. 

Final Note - Where is my Wayspot in the game?

We see some ongoing confusion around why you are receiving wayspot acceptance notifications from a game but aren’t seeing the Wayspot in that particular game. Please be reminded that each Niantic game (not Wayfarer) chooses which Wayspots to use from the Niantic platform, and are at liberty to modify their gameboard at any time.

Wayfarer does not control how each game utilizes Wayspots. Games may also sync with Wayfarer’s Wayspots in a different cadence to each other, which Wayfarer also does not control or mandate. We hope this becomes more intuitively understood with our email refresh mentioned above!

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading down to this line, and hope that it was informative!

I’ll be back with another update before the winter holidays start. Take care!

-- NianticDanbocat ☺️


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