Ending the Auto-Upgrade Curse
I thought for sure someone would have suggested this already, but I guess not! Anyway, here it is:
We've seen for some time now that auto-upgrades are actually blocking not only the submission process, but the review process. Depending on your area, and depending on your POI, upgrades might result in a lower acceptance rate. This forces many people to submit only very specific POIs when they're "stuck" with upgrades, or people stop reviewing entirely - which of course is a detriment to the entire Wayfarer process - so they don't get an upgrade while they allow submissions to proceed "normally."
I have done this myself just recently!
A while ago, the Niantic team mentioned something about changing the way upgrades are handled. Can we get some progress on this? Can we do away with the automatic function and use them at our leisure? This would be a true quality of life upgrade as well as a boost to the review process itself!
In the September 2021 AMA, NIA said in their response to a question about upgrades being rejected that
"Don't upgrade it, upgrades are more likely to be rejected"... Well, this is interesting; upgrades only boost the chances that your nomination appears on someone’s review page. It doesn’t affect the rate at which your nomination gets resolved, or whether it is accepted or rejected.
Upgrades cause the nomination to be available to a wider area of reviewers. This in turn means that a smaller proportion of locals will be voting on it, and more people who are far away from, or not aware of the local significance of, the upgraded nomination will be eligible to get it for review. Which in turn means that the chance that the nomination is rejected is greater.
Effectively, the "reward" for reviewing a lot is that your nomination gets to be reviewed by people who don't have the local knowledge to understand its eligibility.
Ending auto-upgrades would be a very effective way to at least make people review again, even though it does not really address the underlying problem of rejecting eligible nominations. I'm not sure how to solve that, honestly.
Wayfarer already has a big notification that appears on the main page when an upgrade has been applied. It should be possible to use the same notification to alert people that they have a stored upgrade that they are now eligible to apply instead.
Maybe Niantic could put the "upgrade curse" myth to bed, by releasing statistics:
I think it's antidotal - people who get upgraded rejections get together to complain, and decide their perception is true. People whose upgrades pass don't get together to complain.
On the other hand, creating these statistics could show Niantic that it is true. You have to admit you have a problem, before you can do anything about it.
Also, I think the concept of "local reviewers" is WAY overblown. The system considers you "local" to a HUGE area. I have not visited every park, restaurant, and trail within 50 miles from my house. But I know a teenager's big toe is not valid even 1000 miles away. And a church that is on the map probably is valid. If I think a stripe on a tree is or is not a valid trail marker - distance doesn't matter.
"Local reviewers" do matter in Europe, if we could define "non-local" as "in a different country". But Niantic has no such measure.
The biggest problem with the extended range is getting your submission rewieved by someone who doesn´t speak your language.
The system of limiting the scope of review with or without upgrades in the first place is currently causing a bad side effect on both approval and rejection.
Upgrading exposes the reviewer to a wide range of POOR reviewers and denial.
Also, the abuse of avoiding upgrades colludes within the community to mass produce and reposition low quality wayspot.
Both of these are problems.
I believe that the scope of review should not be separated by cells, etc., but only the scope of the upgrade. And the nominations that can be reviewed should be separated by language.
This way, we can facilitate the problem of nominations from dry areas such as Africa and Micronesia. (If we nominate in English, reviewers in English-speaking countries can judge the nominations.)
Also, upgraded nominations will be judged by GREAT reviewers, which should lead to a certain solution to the cry that upgrading will lead to rejection.