A professional Pokemon Go player has been banned for submitting poor-quality PokeStops
Paweł ‘YMegaSnorlax’ Szczur, a skilled player in Pokemon Go, has been suspended from the game due to allegedly submitting "inaccurate or inappropriate...
Paweł ‘YMegaSnorlax’ Szczur, a skilled player in Pokemon Go, has been suspended from the game due to allegedly submitting "inaccurate or inappropriate images for existing Wayspots." Wayspots are equivalent to PokeStops in Niantic's Wayfarer system, which updates points of interest. Upon receiving a notification stating that his Pokemon Go account would be suspended for 30 days, Paweł will unfortunately be unable to participate in the Regional Championships in Lille next month.
Szczur is not the initial recipient of such a ban. Online forums have been filled with players' complaints for several months, expressing frustration that their submissions, which they believe to be valid, have resulted in bans from the game they are attempting to enhance. However, it appears that no one has been affected more profoundly than Szczur, as he has already made travel arrangements to France for the upcoming tournament, only to discover that he is now unable to participate.
Pokemon Go YouTuber Zyonik addressed the recent wave of bans in a video posted a week ago, examining the ambiguous nature of banning players whose PokeStop nominations do not align with the platform's criteria. However, the situation is multifaceted. The surge in bans followed a bot attack on the platform, where numerous low-quality PokeStops were submitted in The Netherlands, and a significant number of them were approved. While these stops have been subsequently removed, Wayfarer has intensified its scrutiny on superfluous submissions, potentially impacting innocent players in the process.
Following the prominent ban of 'GreenBeeV', which received significant coverage from Zyonik, a Niantic employee named 'NianticAaron' responded to concerns on the Wayfarer forum. They expressed gratitude for the raised concerns and assured users that punishments are administered only after thorough investigations by their team. Punishments are not issued for automatic rejections by the system or nominations that fall into a gray area. While the Niantic team may remove certain Wayspots, it does not necessarily result in punishments. The employee also acknowledged that social media posts may not always provide a complete and accurate portrayal of the situation, potentially leading to misconceptions.
We administer punishments for explicit violations of our policies, which may involve repeated submissions of low quality, fraudulent submissions, attempts to influence reviewers, harassment of others, participation in voting rings, and similar actions. If individuals refrain from engaging in such practices, there is no cause for concern. I trust that this clarifies the situation and alleviates any confusion. Enjoy your explorations!
The main points to note are that human investigations are conducted to determine suspension decisions, and auto-rejections do not automatically result in bans. Andis, a Wayfarer ambassador who serves as a mediator between Niantic and players, testing new features, providing feedback, etc., raised concerns about Zyonik's video. Andis mentioned that they received additional details that they cannot disclose, leading them to believe that GreenBeeV's ban was justified. However, as this information has not been shared and regular players do not have access to it (including GreenBeeV, due to Wayfarer's policy of not revealing the exact reason for a ban), this evidence is inconclusive.
Andis reinforces the point made by NianticAaron that social media can be deceptive, and individuals on the Wayfarer forums claim to have observed GreenBeeV's PokeStop submissions and considered them ineligible, justifying the ban. However, it is important to note that none of them have publicly shared the evidence supporting their claims.
Szczur's situation deviates slightly from the others. He suspects that his ban may be a consequence of updating photos on PokeStops that have been removed. According to his account, someone in his town has been deleting photos from stops, and his mass upload of updated images may have triggered the ban. Furthermore, he alleges that this individual may have submitted a photo to Google to facilitate the removal of the PokeStop. Szczur believes that this person aims to "ruin the enjoyment of people in the area." It is important to note that whether these accusations hold truth or not, Wayfarer has not banned or penalized individuals who previously uploaded their photos to Google; it simply rejected those specific submissions.
The only clarification Szczur received via email was that his suspension was due to his submissions to existing PokeStops. Given that bans can be applied to submissions dating back up to a year, there is a significant amount of data to review. Szczur has been transparent in sharing his submissions, including multiple videos showcasing his email receipts and submitted photos. However, despite this information, it remains impossible to determine the precise reason behind his ban.
Numerous players express their disappointment regarding the implementation of bans in Pokemon Go for subpar Wayfarer submissions. However, it is necessary to have a deterrent for those who maliciously submit waypoints. The primary purpose of submitting a Wayspot is to have it appear as a PokeStop or its equivalent in Niantic's other games. It is important to note that Wayfarer itself is not a standalone game. Bans within the Wayfarer system hold little significance and can be circumvented using disposable accounts. On the contrary, by banning the associated Pokemon Go account, players are actively discouraged from attempting to move PokeStops closer to their residences or submitting stops for personal gain. As long as bans are appropriately issued, there should be no issue with this system. However, the problem lies in the lack of consensus regarding the appropriateness of suspensions.
Szczur has filed an appeal and intends to attend the tournament in France as a spectator, even if they are unable to compete. After all, they have already made travel arrangements. However, the outcome of their appeal and whether it will be resolved in time for the tournament remain uncertain. Most importantly, it is evident that there is a need to enhance communication between developers and players. Relying on a single active forum member and volunteer ambassadors to address misconceptions with vague references to information is not sufficient.
Wayfarer should strive for clarity in its ban notifications, providing enough information to suspended individuals regarding the reasons for their suspension, while avoiding revealing details that could be exploited by malicious users. Striking the right balance is challenging, but improved communication would prevent social media controversies from escalating to such an extent. This, in turn, could foster greater trust in Wayfarer and encourage more people to confidently submit their own nominations.