BRAINSTORM: How can Niantic better handle portals that become inaccessible?

HosetteHosette ✭✭✭✭✭

Niantic has been pretty good about ensuring that all of the wayspots are accessible at the time that they are approved, and for most locations that's enough, but there will always be locations where formerly-accessible wayspots are no longer reachable. For other Niantic games something being inaccessible is no big deal but for Ingress it can cause a lot of issues. The tools for knowing when something becomes inaccessible are not as good, and Niantic is in a tough position for figuring out how to remove things.

To start with, there would need to be a clear definition of inaccessible. Niantic has been adamant that an amusement park that is only open for part of the year is perfectly valid, as they have been for one location I'm thinking of that is only open a couple of days per year. Based on that, the definition of inaccessible would have to be more than six months. What would be reasonable? Nine months? One year?

I've been trying to think of a way to programmatically identify inaccessible portals, and I'm not sure there is one. I spent a lot of time thinking about portals that hadn't been accessed in X time, but I quickly realized that would have a lot of false positives. There are lots of portals that don't get accessed for a long time-- that little town that nobody ever goes to, that super difficult mountain peak-- but they are still perfectly valid. There are others that aren't, like areas that have been closed by the owners or blocked by natural disasters, and those can be problematic when one faction uses and abuses them. I'm a big fan of durable and challenging portals, and I've done my fair share of taking advantage to those, but when they are permanently inaccessible they make the game less fun for everyone.

I've spent a lot of mental cycles thinking about how this could be improved. I spent some time pondering whether wayspots should be put into a dormant state if they aren't accessed for X period of time. A dormant portal would lose all of its links and could not be linked to until it was visited in person. When I applied my challenge to it, "What unintended consequences would this have?" I realized that it would lead to a lot of spoof-hacking and because that's not comm visible there's no way for players to monitor the situation.

Anyway, I hope we can have a reasonable and productive conversation about this. Some topics:

  1. What should define an inaccessible portal?
  2. What should happen in Ingress after a portal is declared inaccessible?
  3. How can the hypothetical inaccessibility-detection system be protected from bad actors?



  • GrogyanGrogyan ✭✭✭✭✭

    Some wayspots in remote locations have had their physical objects removed or destroyed in natural disasters yet both factions still utilize the wayspot.

    These are just as valid historical points of interest as they were when there was a physical object there.

    But if you are specifically pointing towards inaccessible wayspots, please provide examples of inaccessible wayspots. Because even if a wayspot is only accessible by an on-site tech for example, at say a windfarm, it is still technically an accessible wayspot.

  • ZeroHecksGivenZeroHecksGiven ✭✭✭✭✭

    I think the biggest problem with this is that it's too easy for this system to be gamed or taken advantage of. We had an anchor removed from the system and not only can we not figure out why it was removed (as the wayfarer forums are about as useful as these forums when it comes to communication) it's damn near impossible to get something re-instated. Especially something that has been grandfathered in and may not meet exact/current criteria. The portal in question is a plaque on a small island dedicated to divers who lost their lives. Requires a boat or kayak or you could do some hiking and swimming and get there as well. But, someone decided, hey, since I can't reach this easily, I'm going to report it, get it removed and make this easier for ME.

    I have to imagine there are people who just spray and pray that portals get removed. Stuff that isn't easy to get to, common anchors, etc. Just keep reporting and eventually the right reviewer will come along and agree with them.

  • NysyrNysyr ✭✭✭✭

    I know which portal you're talking about, I haven't seen it personally but I'm guessing it was outside their definition of safe access. I mean it was literally put in because people died there so... By Niantics definition you need to be able to safely reach and stand at the portal, I'd have to see ground view. I know an ENL visited it to take it down and they may have had enough evidence to convince support it fell outside that

    On another note since you're in the area, what is your opinion of the PACCAR fuel silo (its not a water tower). At most its accessible once per year if they run the flower festival, outside that it's not.

  • HosetteHosette ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Grogyan Some examples: There are areas that have been ravaged by forest fires and cannot be safely accessed. There are areas that have been cut off from access due to volcanic activity. There are other natural disasters that could lead to a similar lack of accessibility. There was a part of a national park that was completely closed for about two years, and my understanding is that even park personnel did enter during that time. There are facilities that have been shut down and fenced off.

    In some of these it's clear that the wayspot objects have been destroyed. In others it's impossible to know because nobody can safely get there to find out.

  • XQlusioNXQlusioN ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 2022

    Then they don't have safe access and should be removed, simple as that.

    If at some point in the distant future access is restored and the objects are still there, resubmit.

  • HosetteHosette ✭✭✭✭✭

    @XQlusioN What's the right amount of time before something without safe access should be removed? I don't think it makes sense to remove things that don't have safe access for a few days, or a couple of weeks, such as an area that's flooded. It doesn't make sense to remove things that don't have safe access seasonally, such as things that are snowed in for the winter.

    This is basically what I'm getting at. There's a period of time where it's clearly OK for something to not have safe access and still remain a wayspot, but how long is too long?

  • @Hosette a year would be my limit...

    Seasonal access usually returns each year, so that wouldn't be an issue.

  • SSSputnikSSSputnik ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 2022

    Why does it matter?

    Seriously - if it's inaccessible, then only spoofers can go there. Report them.

    If it's opposite faction controlled, and no longer accessible, report it in Wayfarer with evidence. Ditto same faction.

    A lot of the time, we don't always deploy ALL portals at hard to reach places. (They are inconveniently placed, limited time, can't be bothered etc). Does not mean they are not valid. Pro grammatical removal is not possible.

    A better conversation would be limited access portals. (Employee, military access only).

    For instance the image below. This is a island, access by vehicle is military only, or, invitation by military.

    Within the military areas are further restricted areas that require a special pass. (It's a submarine base, with ammunition storage etc).

    In the center of the island is some public access area. However - you cannot use a commercial hire boat, private only and only between sunrise and sunset. I would say that's valid- albeit tricky.

    The military areas, let alone the special pass areas should all be removed IMHO. (There's actually no portals at the north end).

    And then this one. A single agent has access to this in the heart of the city. Red- Military only. Yes its out of splash range.

  • SSSputnikSSSputnik ✭✭✭✭✭

    Disagree - some years get skipped by weather/COVID/other exceptional circumstances.

  • @SSSputnik @GorillaSapiens hence the usually...

  • MoogModularMoogModular ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 2022

    I just don't know why even deal with portals that are going to be contested or give heartache if it's done by bad actors. I understand to have locations for strategic anchors but doesn't anything with military seem like you're asking for trouble regardless of who has access to the site? I wouldn't want someone to lose their job much less risk their life for this game.

    Post edited by MoogModular on
  • SSSputnikSSSputnik ✭✭✭✭✭

    Not only that but in Australia its against army employment contract to take unauthorised photos on base.

  • SSSputnikSSSputnik ✭✭✭✭✭

    We had that. Shard stored at a military base.

    Opposite faction agent swam to the fence edge at night in the harbor where there's crocodiles.

    I mean kudos getting the shard but insane risk.

  • ToxoplasmollyToxoplasmolly ✭✭✭✭✭

    1) What should define an inaccessible portal?

    An inaccessible portal is one that is not accessible. 😛

    To be accessible, I would start with the notion that one must reasonably be able to point at a particular day on the calendar and claim, "It will be possible to physically interact with the object this portal is nominally for on this day using normal-for-the-area means." Intuitively, accessibility requires the ability to plan a visit.

    From there, refine this notion based on for whom this visit should "possible."

  • The premise "if it's inaccessible, then only spoofers can go there" is not true.

    I use inaccessible portals all the time, with my drone. If those portals weren't there, my drone wouldn't be able to move through the area.

    Lightship says a wayspot is acceptable if ANYONE can access it, even if it's in a gated area. or whatever. Dozens of apps already use Lightship, and they're trying to sell it to dozens more. Ingress portal rules will not apply to them.

    Y'all are suggesting that when Ingress imports data from Lightship, it should drop some (physically inaccessable) Waypoints.

    I don't want Ingress's import process (from Lightship) to be so complicated. Any change seems to break the whole system (not importing new portals, or not importing pictures, or who knows how else it can go wrong).

  • HosetteHosette ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 2022

    @MargariteDVille Niantic has a mechanism for removing nonexistent portals, although it doesn't work particularly well in many cases.

    I'm proposing that they should also have a mechanism for removing inaccessible portals. I think it's dumb to leave portals floating around the game that literally no human on the planet has safe and legal pedestrian access to.

    As for drones, the ones I'm thinking of tend to be extremely remote and the only way to get a drone to them would be to go there in person.

    Post edited by Hosette on
  • MoogModularMoogModular ✭✭✭✭✭

    That would be more for Wayfarer as Niantic has unified all of their POI efforts to one central entity. I have reported removed portals or moved portals through their help chat with action done in days. You don't even need to post on the forums about it.

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