Weaponizing Wayfarer - The Portal Move
Hey you - lets chat. You may be Niantic, you may be an veteran agent to this game or an agent that was linked this to read this rant.
With the release of OPR (now Wayfarer) the hands of cultivating and adjusting the game board became possible for nearly all agents. This helped burn through the backlog that for myself was ticking over at 5 years waiting for results to submitted portals. A great feature that was quickly abused in every way possible whether moving lighthouses across continents, attempting to submit valid portals in invalid locations or submitting moves of portals to drop the links.
My light was quickly was extinguished actually taking part in the Wayfarer, because honestly a couple hundred of Disney portals will burn you out quickly. Kudos to those that take part in keeping the portal network up to date. That is not my cup of tea anymore.
So lets get into the abuse.
First off, its 2021 Niantic. Why are portal moves dropping links? This is incredibly abused and inline with bad actors just flat out spoofing portals. I thought it was isolated incidents, but here I am following chats of 5 different portals within 24 hours that were moved within 10 meters and that is only portals within a few hours drive of me! I can think of a few options to fix this.
- Delay portal moves until the portal has no links. Even if it takes forever.
- Attempt to "re-make" links after portal move.
- Don't drop links. Only "drop" links not possible (ie colliding) after move.
- Move the portal and allow cross links. Everyone knows you can trigger them in a race condition.
You know what the solution is now? Escalate to a VG after the damage is done, links are dropped and lanes are crossed to "lock" a portal for future moves. Who knows what locking a portal does behind the scenes, but it seems like the effort to build this feature (?) is just as costly in time and effort to just fix the problem at the source!
Listen, I get it. Portals are in wrong places. A few meters off though doesn't bug me at all unless the mistake favors someone specifically. Some of these portals were submitted by sending geo-tagged photos to Niantic emails almost a decade ago. Some were placed by various data sources to seed this game. Some were placed by people that make mistakes. Though, when I see a portal moved a few meters on a portal that has not moved in 8 years and that portal contains many links and fields - I'm seriously doubting that intent is to "perfect" the game board.
I can't even figure out what has moved or not. I only recognize the portals we use so often that have saved drawings or more to realize they've moved. When a portal I drive by daily is no longer linked, but still blue. I imagine the other ends got killed - I didn't piece it together that the portal was moved a few meters.
Or the alternative, such a large important portal with all its links is missing. You panic thinking a spoof is in play, but nothing in comms! The portal is still there - everything looks right, but lone behold - it was a simple portal move that went live.
I'm not going to lie. I only chase to remove/correct portals that bug my day to day play. Fake portals that need scans/images/proof to remove. Or portals misplaced to make them easier for x/y/z to access while at work. I attempt to correct them in their proper place and/or remove them. This is not easy. The amount of times I've worked together with agents to only be denied despite valid proof annoys me to no end. I push forward and one less intentionally wrong portal is gone/moved.
Though, at some point. I feel like I've lost the love of the game if my entire experience is chasing evidence and herding cats to collect more evidence simply to remove portals that should have not been approved in the first place.
I've seen so many things over the years that flat out spell faction vs faction instead of any natural pure passion to correct the game. Is this just a war of weaponizing a new thing? Or just a war of payback for each removal back n forth?
Take this one location. It was duped, two portals of the same thing on the same-ish location. It was like this years and years ago. No idea why, but one of the portals should have been removed. I attempted, but back then submitting removals/duplicates was like finding a needle in the haystack. It didn't work. We loved this location, but only shared/spread keys to 1 of the two portals. Guess which portal got removed and which one remained once OPR came around.
Take this other occurrence. A great island of various portals. Are they misplaced? You can only really tell when you are walking on the island, because any map is misleading, but sure they are misplaced. At one random time in the day, one portal moves. None other move, but the portal that moves is of course the one with many 200km+ links. Why not correct the entire island if you are a passionate player? The purpose is clear - move a portal, drop the links. The purpose becomes further clear, when the enemy team is crossing the once blocked lane shortly after the portal is moved.
Take this final occurrence. A portal so far away from normal activity that I doubt you hit the 50km range to edit these portals unless you are actually visiting the island. How did that portal just move 9.3meters and drop 15 links? The portal is still the color I expect. There are no new names on the portal. No scan leader. No photos. Nothing. How did an edit even get to this portal?
I can sit here and list a few more other durable portals, island portals, commonly a certain color portal and the story is the same. Everything is weaponized. I watch discord chats talk about moving portals among S17 cells because Pokemon only does this and that. I see chats warn of an impending portal coming to Wayfarer with instructions on how to vote in the description like "choose top" or "choose left" presumably referring to the distinction between two locations.
I don't understand. I'm barely floating with the constant low level accounts that spoof stuff down. I can't add intentional abuse for moving portals to my list. Please Niantic, stop this.