The Waze Map is updated by a large community of editors around the world with varying levels of experience. As such, there are a few systems in place to protect and uphold the quality of the Waze map from both intentional and unintentional harm.
- 1 Segment locks
- 2 Place locks
- 3 Throttling
- 4 Regression Checker
Segment locks (AKA segment ranks) are the first line of defense when protecting the Waze map from damaging edits.
How it works
Every road segment has two lock values in the WME:
- Automatic or traffic lock level
- Manual or user-specified lock level
1. A user cannot change a lock level or edit a segment that is locked higher than their own level or rank.
2. A user cannot set a manual lock higher than their own level or rank.
3. The last edit date does not influence the algorithm for determining automatic locks.
Automatic locks (Traffic locks)
These are the default lock settings of road segments. The feature is customized for different countries. Waze uses the following to decide how to customize traffic locks for each country:
- Community size
- Management methods
- Map maturity
- Road network characteristic
- Road Weight (see below)
A road’s weight reflects how busy traffic on that segment is and how long it's been on our map. Waze then divides all the segments in the country to half percentiles, removing some very highly weighted segments (because they significantly shift the results). Traffic locks are applied for countries where it's relevant and required. Waze works with the local editing community to understand the correct traffic lock parameters. After a period of beta-testing, the parameters are made live in the WME.
Example parameters (varies by country)
The lowest 97.5% of the segments in the country - are available for everyone to edit (lock 1)
98% - 98.5% - lock 2
98.5% - 99% - lock 3
99% - 99.5% - lock 4
99.5% - 100% - lock 5
The calculation process occurs about once/month in an effort to keep all locks up to date.
Manual locks (User locks)
Manual locks are used in countries where automatic traffic locks are kept at 1, and they can also be used in countries where automatic locks are allowed to be greater than 1 but are insufficient for particular segments. Some countries or regions within countries have agreed upon manual lock standards by road type.
Places are also protected by a system of locks. In contrast to segment locks, with which users can make no changes to segments locked above their rank, changes to places can be submitted by any Waze user. However, changes submitted by users to places that are locked above their rank must be reviewed and approved by editors with rank greater than or equal to the lock level of the place.
Also, new places may be added by any user. However, places added by new users are also subject to moderation. After moderators approve a certain number of new places added by a user, the user becomes trusted and can add places to the map without moderation.
For more information, see Places.
The throttling system is a mechanism that detects anomalies in the number of edits per time frame and prevents the accumulation of edit counts and points for edits. While many scripts are used for positive additions to the map, some scripts cause specific harm with the goal of quickly increasing a user's edit count and points. Scripts used for mass editing are allowed, but they may not always result in the increase of edit counts or points for a user.
The system was put in place to prevent cheaters from unfairly racking up points with large numbers of edits that do little to improve the map. Waze is aware of the value that some scripts have to the map but also recognizes that some scripts are used simply to gain edits and points. The throttling system is in place to allow mass editing but to deter cheating.
How it works
Waze has many thresholds for different types of mass editing activity. Once a limit is reached, the next save of edits results in no additional edits or user points credited. The transaction is followed by a time frame during which edits and points remain uncredited.
Types of editing thresholds
Different thresholds exist for each object type (segments, MP, UR, places etc). Some are calculated per minute, some per hour and some per day. The exact numbers are internal and may change occasionally as needed (new scripts, etc).
Please note that the thresholds are high. It is unlikely to reach them when editing manually without using scripts.
What will I see if I’ve reached the limit?
Nothing. This is a backend process and invisible in the UI. Edits will go through, everything will look the same, but the edit count and points will not increase.
Will this block me as an editor?
Currently, Waze won't auto-block/lock users due to massive edits. This may change in the future.
Reset after throttling
Currently, it takes a few hours to reset your ability to have edits count and points increase after edits have triggered the throttling system. The exact time frame is internal and may change occasionally.
Throttling vs. Cheating
Waze defines cheating as performing edits to the map that do not add value to unfairly move up in rank. Throttling is one of the current methods we use to identify these types of edits, when done on a massive scale. Not all massive edits equal cheating, and not all throttling is as a result of cheating behavior. The system currently does not differentiate between “good” and “bad” mass editing behavior. Contributing to the map with the use of scripts and mass editing is allowed; however, it may trigger the throttling system.
The regression checker is a tool which further assists in protecting the quality of the map. The regression checker warns editors of edits which might harm the map and/or cause map issues. This tool does not work in conjunction with the throttling system but is an additional layer of protection to overall map quality.
How it works
Every save is analysed against a list of possible issues, recent drives in an area, and current road structure. Waze estimates how correct or risky an edit is and gives it a risk score.
Ex: A very large change in a busy highway which cannot work with current driving patterns is expected to have a very high risk score, while a small change in a side street which seems to comply with current driving patterns will have a low risk score.
What the user sees
After each save, the user will see one of three save results: Save successful - everything is cool. Warning - Potential issue. A list of the issues appears and their locations. The user needs to review the issues and decide if they’d like to move ahead with the edits. Error - Serious potential issue. A list of the issues appears and their locations. The user needs to review the issues and fix them. Only then will they be able to save again.
Effect of ranks
There are different warning and error thresholds for each rank. A higher ranking user is more likely to get a 'successful' result, whereas a lower ranking user might get a warning with the same edit. Likewise, a higher ranking user might get a warning but can save a risky edit, whereas a lower ranking user might get an error and be unable to save the same edit.