How does Waze protect the map from potential damage?
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.
The throttling system is a mechanism that detects anomalies in number of edits per time frame and prevents cheaters / scripters to gain points for massive edits. While many scripts are used for positive additions to the map, some scripts cause specific harm with the goal of accumulating points quickly. Scripts used for massive edits are allowed, but may not always result in the rewarding of points.
Massive edits / scripts are "borderline" mapping methods. On one hand, they are not necessarily cheating and may have significant contribution to the map, especially in uncharted countries. This is why they are allowed. On the other hand, editors often use them to cheat.
In both cases, editors using them can easily accumulate a HUGE amount of edits & points VERY QUICKLY. If it was only a matter of points - the issue wouldn't be of concern. The bigger problem is that it allows users to reach higher editing levels quickly and easily. This is the main issue that the throttling system is meant to fix.
The complexity of this situation led to a solution that will not prevent editors from using scripts that may be legitimate. The goal is rather to avoid 10k edits made in a one-click-script to count the same way as 10k edits made in two weeks of hard work without scripts.
How throttling works
Waze has many thresholds for different types of massive editing activity. Once a limit is reached, the next round of edits results in no additional points. The transaction is followed by a time frame during which edits remain uncredited.
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.
The user will not notice a change if they hit the editing limit and are throttled. This is a backend process and invisible in the UI. Edits will go through, everything will look the same, but points will not be granted.
Throttling and auto-block/lock
Currently, Waze won't auto-block/lock users due to massive edits. This may change in the future.
Point-count reset after throttling
Currently, it takes a few hours to reset your ability to acquire points after edits have triggered the throttling system. The exact timeframe is internal and may change occasionally.
Throttling vs. cheating
Waze defines cheating as the performing of pointless edits for the purpose of moving up unfairly in the ranks. Massive edits that do not add value to the map. Throttling is one of the current methods we use to identify these types of massive edits. Not all massive edits equals cheating and not all throttling is as a result of cheating behavior.
Regression checkers is a tool currently in the WME beta, which further assists in protecting the quality of the map. This tool does not work in conjunction with the throttling system, but is an additional layer of protection to overall map quality.
Regression checker warns editors of edits which might harm the map and/or cause map issues.
How it works
Every save is analyzed 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. For example - 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.
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.
How rank effects the system
There are different warning and error thresholds for each rank. Higher ranking users are more likely to get 'successful' where a lower ranking user might get a warning. Furthermore, a higher ranking user may get a warning for a questionable edit, where a lower ranking user might get an error.