BRAINSTORM: How can Niantic better handle portals that become inaccessible?
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:
- What should define an inaccessible portal?
- What should happen in Ingress after a portal is declared inaccessible?
- How can the hypothetical inaccessibility-detection system be protected from bad actors?