Random mission rejection reasons **** motivation and reduce value for the community

MorganzaMorganza ✭✭✭✭✭
edited September 7 in General

I'm an experienced mission creator. People seem to enjoy doing my missions, and I often have people tell me they are looking forward to my next set. In particular, people were looking forward to doing my set at the Sunnyvale Farmers' Market for Second Sunday.

It was, I thought, a cute concept: a set of six missions showing an heirloom tomato on a plate on a granite countertop as it was eaten.

Well, no, it looks like it's not to be.

Here is my rejection letter:


Thanks for submitting F6/6 Sunnyvale Farmer's Market. Unfortunately, we were not able to accept your Mission. Your Mission may have one or more of the following issues:

  • Text contains URLs, email addresses or HTML
  • Author trying to sell/advertise their products or service

Note that these may not be the only issues with your mission. In the future, be sure to thoroughly review our Mission Criteria in the Help Center.

Here are some tips for creating high-quality Missions:

  • Set expectations for your Mission: in the description, include information about how long it may take, the amount of distance it covers, whether it’s best on foot vs. on bicycle, etc.
  • If you use passphrases or create hidden Missions, for added challenge and excitement consider requiring the Agent to examine the actual Portal to find the answer or their next Waypoint.
  • Keep in mind that Agents cannot go on multiple Missions at the same time, so Missions that are too long or difficult may force Agents to abort halfway through. Enhance your Mission by adding custom descriptions for each Waypoint, which makes the Mission more interesting for your fellow Agents.


Well, does anyone see something wrong with the description?


Visit the weekly farmers' market for fresh produce and locally produced foods. Banner starts and ends at the train station.


(This mission ends at the train station.)

Nope, I can't imagine the city farmers' market was being confused with my personal business.

There are three passphrases, maybe one of them?



Philz's Sunburst

Enter the passphrase

Q: A. Autolysis B. Photosynthesis C. Meiosis -- What chemical process do plants use to harness sunlight to create tasty produce? (Hint: sunlight is photons.)

A: B


Labyrinth in Plaza del Sol

Hack this Portal


Plaza del Sol

Hack this Portal


Caltrain Commuter Rail Sunnyvale Station

Hack this Portal


Tree Grill At Murphy station

Enter the passphrase

Q: A. Vines B. Bushes C. Trees -- What plant form do Sunnyvale's famous apricots grow on? (Hint: Look at the portal art.)

A: C


Elevator Tower Clock

Enter the passphrase

Q: A. Cars B. Planes C. Boats -- What vehicles park in this structure?

A: A


Oh wait, I bet I know what the problem is. The mission image is a picture of a tomato on a plate. I can't believe I was so excited about my cute concept for this mission series that I didn't stop to think that a tomato on a plate is a similar shape to the letter "O", and of course single letter mission icons are absolutely prohibited, and this automatic absolute mission rejection reason is so important that it's not mentioned in either the mission criteria or the rejection letters that people get.

(This has been pointed out to Niantic staff again and again, and nothing has changed. @NianticBrian we discussed this in person at the Oakland van event in July. How much developer time does it take to add one sentence to a document? One item to a rejection-reason menu?)

(By the way, the mission with just the empty plate with a puddle of tomato juice on it was accepted.)

Yes, I can resubmit the two rejected missions with new photos. They won't likely be accepted in time for Second Sunday, if at all -- missions that have been rejected once are very hard to get approved even if otherwise acceptable. (The workaround is to generate and submit completely new missions. Most people don't know that.) And any new art will break the flow of the cute set of six.

@NianticBrian @NianticThia Can you please do something, anything, about this? A lot of people give up creating missions after getting a few rejection notices with irrelevant reasons cited, and unlike in this simple case, often there is no reason anyone can figure out at all for rejection.



  • ZeroHecksGivenZeroHecksGiven ✭✭✭✭✭

    It's absolutely laughable and painful to me that this hasn't been addressed by Niantic. I can understand not having the dev time to make the needed fixes, but as far as I can remember, no one has given any sort of response about a fix coming or even acknowledging it's an issue outside of @NianticThia saying she wanted to look into it when she first started.

    But rest easy everyone. Niantic says they read all of our posts and they're working hard for us behind the scenes. Exciting things coming, they can't tell you anything because "reasons," but we're not being ignored... /s

  • AI is a good thing to filter out stuff, but a human being should always check the AI's findings.

    'Market' isn't always to advertize a business. A round tomato is not the same a a letter O.

    I have a friend whose mission update (it was already live before, he only removed a portal that) was rejected because it supposedly was a 'test mission'. Well, the mission has 'Resting' in its name. Over-ambitious AI assumes it's a typo for 'Testing'?

  • MorganzaMorganza ✭✭✭✭✭

    A friend says the mission might have been rejected for promoting "a commercial entity" -- the city-sponsored farmers' market.

    Really? Farmers' markets are widely cited for improving community health, improving the economic viability of farmland near cities, increasing reasons for people to explore their local neighborhoods -- this is the reason that so many cities and neighborhoods sponsor them. They are more akin to public services than businesses.

    And in any case, that's not part of the published guidelines.

    • The rejection reason says "Author trying to sell/advertise their products or service" - but it's not any Agent's products or services being sold there.
    • What is encouraged in the guidelines? "Pop culture Missions, like tours of movie locations or a local band’s favorite spots to eat, drink and relax around the city." and "Missions that allow Agents to learn about cultural aspects of a city... the best food, the coolest art, top tourist attractions and other memorable locations."

    It's really really tough to help Agents discover great places to eat and drink without promoting any commercial entities.

    Top tourist attractions often are commercial entities. But it's true that you can't mention the name of a business in a mission title or description -- I learned that through trial and error when my single mission on the lavishly decorated grounds of a famous tourist-attraction restaurant kept getting rejected until I removed the name of the place from the title and description.

    So no, I don't think mentioning the farmers' market is why it was rejected -- but it's kinda telling that in a group of heavily experienced mission authors and doers, there can be such different guesses about what the guidelines permit and deny.

  • I will agree for the motivation part.. after trying to create a mission that explores a local college, i got a rejection letter suggesting that i should add a theme, like exploring a local college!

    Very demotivating for such a disconnect to exist between the letter and the actual rejection reason. The idea that they are using AI (artificial idiocy) to review the missions is a plausible explanation.

    Please fix the mission review process.

  • I agree that the random mission rejections are incredibly discouraging. I'm also a mission veteran, both in SpecOps (almost 1500) and mission creation. There used to be some annoyances with the creation process, but nothing like it is now.

    The last 4 banners that I've submitted have all had huge chunks of them rejected for "a lack of a clear or informative description and/or title". Yet the description and title were good enough to approve pieces of them? That doesn't even make sense.

    Any changes or edits to attempt to fix this vague reasoning are immediately rejected. These banners can take hours to make - why should we keep wasting our time when Niantic can't even bother to give a slightly detailed reason for the rejections?

    The latest batch of rejections that came in, the time stamps had around 10 being rejected within 1 minute of each other. There's no way they're being honestly and fairly evaluated in such a short amount of time, which is even more discouraging.

    Banners keep a lot of players engaged when we would otherwise get bored, especially older players. I don't understand why Nia seems so determined to make something that should be easy and fun so miserable and complicated?

    I love missions, but I've almost given up hope with this process.

  • mortuusmortuus ✭✭✭✭✭

    Maybe Thia can get this looked into, the whole review process seems so strange and random for all those rejections, really demotivating.

  • GendgiGendgi ✭✭✭

    There's a whole forum for this.

  • AzhreiaAzhreia ✭✭✭✭✭

    The Wayfarer Community forum has nothing to do with Ingress Missions and that review process.

  • GendgiGendgi ✭✭✭

    My bad 😅 I missed the "mission" part, strike my irrelevant reply.

  • The random rejections have always been frustrating. In 2017 and 2018, I led a group creating many missions. I came up with this list of possibilities for getting rejected missions approved. (Back then there were two possible rejection emails.) Since then, my spouse and I kept nominating, and I still find these tips helpful. Maybe this group will too. @Morganza @B3AR77u77P0ked @Cyanidesin @mortuus


    New Mission Reject

    • Add REJECT to its title, and create a new mission for your next try. This gives you a record of what happened (in case it’s rejected again and you want to try again, or you have a new theory later). Plus, the rejected version might be “tainted”, so go in a slow track.
    • Now your focus is to get it approved, even if it means making temporary changes you don’t like. Get a skeleton approved, and plan phases of edits to make it better.

    “Use of image or text” Email

    • Use a portal key picture as badge. Niantic already owns it. (You’ll probably need to edit it to make it work.) Or use a picture you took yourself. Pictures from other sources could have an embedded copyright, causing mission rejection. 
    • Last resort: submit without a badge. Add it back after published! It’s quick! Don’t be that guy!
    • Remove words (even the name of the town) that in your wildest imagination might be a person’s name.
    • Don’t use song lyrics, product names, TV/movie lines, etc. Google your phrases used, to see if someone else owns them. Ask someone older/younger than you, who would know a different decade.
    • Make the title and description boring, and remove portal descriptions (so definitely no potential copyright infringement). Like: “Hack these things to earn a badge.” You can edit it after it’s approved.

    “Quality issues” Email

    • Rearrange portals, even if Any Order. Optimize the order from the approver’s standpoint. I have seen rejected Any Order missions accepted after merely changing portal order. One way: Temporarily set to Sequenced and rearrange to have the shortest route (lines), ignoring roads. Then set it back to Any Order before submitting. 
    • Avoid starting on the same portal as another mission (some approvers allow; some don’t). 
    • Maybe your title, mission description, and/or portal descriptions are clever, but your approver didn’t ”get it”. Try making them boring for the initial approval. 
    • Niantic greatly favors missions from people who have submitted none, or very few, already. If all else fails, or if your mission has been awaiting approval more than a month, find a pal to submit it for you.
    • Add and/or drop one or more waypoints.

    Ambush Portals

    • Omit Fire stations, hospitals - anything that might raise a red flag for an approver.
    • Try to include 7 or more waypoints. Several times, I had missions approved minus a portal, and my edits to add the portal back were rejected (a store, a clubhouse, and a church). Best guess: these portals have been reported (so Niantic doesn’t want them on a mission), but not processed (so are still in play). If this randomness puts your mission below the 6 waypoint minimum, it will be rejected - still showing your original portals, so you won’t know why. Better to start with too many, then do the mission, and potentially edit to remove some. 

    Wording Tips

    • Do not use an at sign - not even “Closes @ dusk.” (Yeah, the character limit is killer.) Avoid other special characters too, as they could be flagged by a security program as a possible attempt at code injection. 
    • Minimize/remove acronyms. They’re not looking them up; just assuming the worst.
    • Be clear when using a city or county name – the approver doesn’t know what Barrow is, or that Helen is a town.
    • Clarify/remove anything a non-local might not understand, like A1A => Hwy A1A.
    • Avoid words that MIGHT mean you’re marketing something. I used “Banking” in a title, and every portal/fieldtrip was about a long-gone bank, but I think they suspected I was trying to get customers. Changed title to “Historic Bank”, and it was approved.
    • Don’t assume that something in other missions - or a portal name - is OK for your mission. They were approved by somebody else. Your approver is not researching what’s already out there. Example: A mission named after its first portal, with that portal key as mission badge (BMW Water Tower) - was rejected. Changed only title - accepted. Another: Used identical description as another mission (in a banner) - rejected. Description changed - accepted.
  • Imagine getting a rejection for ONE of the six missions with an identical title and description (bar the number) and you get this reason.

  • MorganzaMorganza ✭✭✭✭✭

    By the way, I cloned the two rejected missions exactly and resubmitted them with a picture of four quarters of a tomato on a plate; both got approved.

    So either it's OK to mention a farmers' market in a mission title or description, or six different missions got approved in spite of being in violation of the rules. (Both are possible.)

    Now, though, I need to come up with a way to make the six missions look cute as a set again; the original tomato is long gone (it was quite tasty) and the plate and granite counter it was on are far away. My best option would seem to be an entirely new photoshoot and submit edits to all six missions, and hope they are either all accepted or all rejected.

    At least there's a new transit-accessible set of six people can do for the October Second Sunday if it follows the same format.

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