Appealing edits to a wayspot can cause Niantic to remove that wayspot for policies that may not be public

Hints at this issue first arose a few weeks back in this thread:

In that thread, a well meaning Wayfinder was posting asking for help with some edits they were trying to make that Niantic was rejecting. They explained that a particular wayspot in a local park was for a memorial plaque but that after checking every plaque in the park they could not find the one pictured. They made the logical choice of attempting to update the wayspot info to match the plaque on the bench at the same location as that wayspot.

NianticAaron replied with this:

I see that you tried to replace the title, description and photo of the Wayspot to repurpose it. That is a violation and is considered abuse. If this particular bench does not exist anymore, it should be reported for removal.

Now on its face, this policy does make some sense. There have absolutely been cases in which wayspots were wildly repurposed either to cover up prior abuse or to abusively bypass other systems. But there are a myriad of situations in which it can (and arguably should) be done which are in no way abusive. What’s worse, is that when asked about a specific case in which someone was told not to do this, Aaron said the following:

If a mural has been replaced by another, they can be edited. For other physical objects, they should be reported for removal.

Regarding businesses, the text should be updated only if the business has changed its name. If there is a new business at the same location, it should be reported for removal.

So now we have a policy which is not available on any known help page for Wayfarer or any of the games, and which also has this one weird exclusion but only the one! We’ll come back to this in a minute.

Next up, the same intrepid explorer attempted to correct the location of a wayspot and help chat replied by saying it did not meet “our policy criteria” and removed it!

Even according to Aaron’s controversial comment (RIP old forums you can’t even read this comment anymore) about trail markers and there uniquely stringent criteria that is out of line with any other type of object this trail marker seems to surpass that bar. Why is it being removed?!

I personally have multiple other examples but unfortunately do to the bugginess of the help chat which Niantic has known is an issue for over 2 years but refuses to fix I cannot go back and take screenshots.

One particular example which i do have is from 2 weeks ago when i was appealing a bunch of old title edits. In this case, the particular mural (hey remember how these are special?) had been painted over with something new and i neglected to check streetview before submitting the appeal.

Here’s what I thought was there:

here’s what streetview shows most recently:

Now. what is on this wall now is not the logo or name of the establishment as you can see what is clearly on the sign to the right. It is a motto and can easily be considered a mural. So surely, surely this is that one unique case in which the wayspot can be repurposed right?!
No of course not, help chat removed it in response to my title appeal.
(for those who are curious, the other wayspots help chat removed when i appealed the title were a few little free libraries which were right on the edge of PRP, this is an acceptable case for removal but is still evidence for what i am claiming in the title of this post. sadly i have no screenshots of these either)

Fast forward to today and we have another variation of this situation.
Another well meaning and endlessly patient wayfarer who many of you know and appreciate for her dedication to helping others on these forums posted an appeal for a rejected title edit.

In this case, a museum has an outdoor art walk. each individual station is permanent and always has a piece of art but the specific piece of art at each station changes occasionally.

She submitted a new photo, which was approved. And then a title edit which was rejected. Upon appealing via help chat this wayspot too was removed. Whether this removal was correct is very much debated and i will certainly be engaging in that debate elsewhere. But it is undeniable that the simple act of appealing an edit caused the removal. And again, this is a specific variation of policy which is not to be found on any help page.

As @BlameJamal put it so well, this type of response has a “chilling effect on people trying to improve the lightship map”

I am certainly disinclined to submit edits now let alone appeal them. What new policy will Niantic cite to support their removal of the next wayspot i try to clean up? I don’t want to walk on eggshells. And with all the other barriers that already exist in this system, this one is the last thing we need making the situation worse.


I’d also like to point out that niantic takes this policy about murals to a ridiculous extreme. For example:

This mural was whitewashed over:

It was reported for removal, report rejected and the wayspot was retitled “Graffiti”:

Because here’s what is on streetview from October 2023:

and streetview from january 2023 showing the mural so you believe that it’s the same location:

This is just incorrect. This should not happen. That vandalism is not a valid wayspot nor is it in any way a replacement for the mural that was there previously.