Let’s Talk About the Wayfarer December AMA Results

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Hello Wayfinders, The results of the December AMA (Ask Me Anything) are in and they are… interesting?

The original thread can be found here, and the comment with the answers can be found here. I sorted the original thread by top comments because Niantic had originally said they would take the top 15 questions. We’ll see how well that went. Spoiler alert, that’s not what happened.

I also wanted to give a shout-out to my friends at the Wayspotters Podcast, who did an excellent job recapping the AMA and the answers that were given by Niantic.  It’s episode 51 if you’re interested in checking it out. 

On to the AMA!

Roadmap for 2023

Let’s start off where Niantic started, with the roadmap for 2023. There are some good things here, it will be interesting to see if they manage to stay on track. Because if we know anything, sticking to things they’ve announced is not Niantic’s strong suit especially when it comes to Wayfarer.

Anyway, Niantic didn’t straight answer the top 15 questions. They took what they determined to be the most asked groups of questions and grouped them together. I think it ruins the spirit of an AMA, but it is what it is.

I’m going to summarize the responses here because there’s a lot of stuffing in there and I’d rather just get to the heart of their responses. 

Niantic grouped the questions into categories because why just answer the top 15 questions in order I guess.

Edits, Appeals, and Overall velocity:

1) What is being done to increase the speed of processing Appeals?

Niantic: We found a bug. We’re gonna fix the bug in January and do some stuff to make sorting reviews easier and more efficient for our reviewers.  We’re also doing stuff to make feedback better, so you’ll have to use fewer appeals!

I think that last part is a bit of a cop-out, but I’m encouraged that they discovered a bug and have a plan to fix it in January, as I currently have 2 appeals pending and another 6 or 7 that I’m considering putting in. We’ll see what comes of this.

2) Can we be refunded upgrades for nominations accepted with an Appeal?

Niantic: “No.  Maybe later, but no.”

People work very to get upgrades, and to have a perfectly good upgraded nomination rejected is frustrating.  Especially when you appeal it and it gets approved, it’s a lot of hard work wasted. It would make sense to get that upgrade back, but apparently, that’s not on the table at the moment.

This is extra frustrating when you take into consideration the number of bad reviewers that are out there that are dragging down good nominations. This would be an absolute win for the Wayfarer team, and I don’t understand why they don’t have an appetite for it.

3) When will we have the ability to give details for why we are requesting an Edit?

Niantic: “Maybe in the second half of the year”

People using description edits to support their location edits is by far the most used violation of rules. Having the ability to give a couple of lines about why you are suggesting an edit would not mitigate this.

Additionally, I’ve come across a number of edits that change the name of a Wayspot by one word and not in a way that was clear, especially if Google maps isn’t updated with the official name of the wayspot.  Having a small text box where submitters could write in the reasoning behind the edit would help greatly, and probably cut down on the number of edits that take forever because they can’t meet the vote threshold to get approved because nobody has a solid idea of which one to vote for.

4) What is being done to combat the Edit Backlog now approaching 4 or more years in some areas?

Niantic: “Our top priority for 2023 is to reduce the time it takes for Explorers to receive resolution on Nominations, Appeals, and Edits.” – That’s a direct quote from the answer.

The rest of their answer boils down to, we’re testing some stuff.

The solution to this is super simple. I mentioned it in my article about Wayfarer back in October when HP-Munchcraft suggested it.  The Wayspotters mention that one of their listeners Dingo brought up the same thing… Increase the range that edits (and nominations) get seen in. Even if you only do it after an edit or nomination has been in voting for a set amount of time. Sorry, I need to get something off my chest here…

4 years to hear back about an edit is wildly unacceptable.

I feel better now.  Let’s move on.

Criteria and Reviews

5) When is the Criteria page on the Wayfarer site and the Help Center finally going to be properly updated with the clarifications that happen from time to time?

Niantic: “We will be incorporating your feedback here, as well as what was raised in challenges earlier this year, to make changes that you will see released throughout the year. To start, we are working on new learning materials to clarify those changes better and will place them in the Wayfarer help center. Additionally, you will see these criteria changes reflected in the Wayfarer App and other channels to create better alignment across the Wayfarer experience.

That’s directly from the AMA.  That’s the answer Niantic gave. 

I think this was the fluffiest answer out of all of them.  There wasn’t any real substance to the answer or any clear direction on what they are doing or when they are planning on doing it.

Actual clarification on a lot of the eligibility criteria would go a long, long way to alleviating a ton of the problems that we experience in Wayfarer.

6) Will we ever be able to change Bonus Location more frequently?

Niantic: Yes, at some point. 

I’ll be honest, I haven’t changed my bonus location since it became a thing. However I do see the point of being able to change it more often, and I do see the risk that allowing people to change it too often poses to the integrity of the gameboard.  

Some actual substance in this answer would have been nice, like an actual answer about how often we’ll be able to change it.  However, I do understand the hesitation here.

7) Can we get a Daily Reviewing Stamp for reviewing? Similar to the current Field research in Pokémon GO?

Niantic: Great question, maybe. Give us more ideas like this and we’ll consider them.

I’ve said for a long time that there needs to be more rewards for nominating wayspots, edits, and reviews.

  • Reviewing 100 nominations 30 days in a row could award an upgrade.
  • Reviewing 100 nominations 60 days in a row could award a token to instantly push a nomination into voting.
  • Reviewing 100 nominations 180 days in a row could award a token to push a nomination directly to Niantic for voting.

Just some ideas.

Improvement to overall experience

8) When will “Contributions” finally show all Photos/Edits, etc. as indicated by the emails?

Niantic: Yeah, sorry this has taken so long… but you’re gonna have to wait until at least the back half of 2023.

Deep breaths Glaw, deep breaths.

Come on!!!! I had to make myself a whole spreadsheet to track all of my edits because I’ve made over 200 I hated not being able to track them. The emails we get that are automatically generated say “You can also check the status of your suggestion in your Contribution Management page.” If you’re not going to add that feature, can you not at least remove that line from the email? That can’t be that difficult, right?

Speaking about the emails, why is this a thing that has happened to me more than once:

This is exactly the same edit suggestion, two responses.  Which one is it? Well, it got accepted. So yay I guess.

I could rant about this one for a while, seeing it pushed to the back end of 2023 is frustrating and disappointing. I’ll be happy when it’s finally a thing because I have another 200 edits lined up and tracking them manually is time-consuming.

9)When will mentions of Portals/PokéStops during the nomination process be replaced with “Wayspot”?

Niantic: Whelp, that’s up to the people who work on the games to do… soooooooo.

This is a huge cop-out, but this one doesn’t surprise me. The fact that Pokémon GO mentions you are nominating a Pokéstop has frustrated me for a while and has led to a lot of confusion when trainers’ nominations were approved but never showed up in Pokémon GO. If they changed it to wayspot people might do a double-take, and google what that meant.

10) All Accepted Nominations should be rewarded in All Games (i.e. stats/medals) whichever the game you submitted.

Niantic: We’ve passed this along to the game teams.

I only really play Pokémon GO, so I don’t have much to say about this.

Bugs and Abuse

11) What’s the timeline for fixing Wayfarer’s growing list of bugs?

Niantic: Thanks for reporting all those bugs! We are working on fixing some of them in early 2023.  

They list some bugs but don’t clarify if those are the ones they’re fixing in early 2023 if other ones are tops on the list or really anything at all. The bug where you have to scroll up every single time is something that’s put me off reviewing for a while now, so here’s hoping that’s at or near the top of the priority list.

12) When will we get better consequences for abusers?

Niantic: Abusers can receive a warning, suspension, and permanent ban. Sometimes, we work with game teams to have a permanent ban that’s not something we can do from our end.

Ok first, Niantic can’t ban people from Wayfarer in Wayfarer?  Wha? 

I’ll give them the fact they can’t turn off the ability to physically nominate Wayspots in their games. That I understand, but they could just set a flag to auto-reject anything that someone who’s banned submits. Personally, I think it’s a lot more fun than just straight turning off someone’s ability to put through nominations.

Again, this is a fluff answer. I was looking for a firm statement, condemning abuse and saying that they plan on issuing harsher penalties on people who abuse the system.

I would also like to know what happens to the abuse I’ve reported, I don’t want or need specifics, just an auto email back that says something along the lines of: “Hey we’ve reviewed your report and determined that it was abuse, we’re taking action against the Wayfinder.  Thanks!”

Community Engagement and Initiatives

13) Can we have more Wayfarer challenges?

Niantic: Absolutely!! 

It’s so fluffy!!

14) How does the Wayfarer Team feel the Ambassadors have done?

Niantic: Great Success!

I think the one line in this answer that frustrates me is “We were able to tackle clarifying the criteria through the Criteria Challenge, adding more specificity to our most unclear set of criteria.”  Yeah, it’s been updated but it’s still not enough.

15) Why do you ignore the community of Explorers? More communication was promised and then we got nothing.

Niantic: 2 things

  1. When it comes to the forum, we’re making it safe and enjoyable by doing stuff behind the scenes. We’re responding to just over 40% of forum posts and in 2023 we’re aiming to for 50%
  2. Beyond the forum we’re gonna be on social media more!

Ok let’s address #1 first.  40%?!  Seriously? That’s laughable.  I mean technically sure, but responding to the same posts over and over and closing threads isn’t engaging with the community. I am pretty sure most of that 40% is them responding to Pokémon GO trainers asking why their approved submission isn’t in the game.

I just hope that in 2023 they actually engage more, and don’t just close more threads than last year.

#2, I hope so.  I really hope so.

In Conclusion

There’s some substance here, not much substance, but substance. There’s also a lot of fluff that you have to wade through to find that substance. Even then, it’s hard to have faith that they’ll follow through with much of it given their track record.

Time will tell just how much of this they actually follow up on, and how much of it impacts the Wayfarer program in any sort of meaningful way.

4 years to hear back about an edit is wildly unacceptable.

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