Staff communication with community is broken

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Staff communication with community is broken

Postby iainhouse » Thu Nov 17, 2016 2:47 am

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Iain. In July 2012, I had my first smartphone and was looking for a free satnav application. I downloaded Waze and found many mistakes, so I started editing the map. From those beginnings, in 4½ years, I have progressed to being the all-time top editor in the UK; the 20th all-time editor in the ROTW; a member of the UK self-administration team and a Waze Global champ. I've made 1.2M edits and earned 4.2M points. I've made nearly 7000 posts on the forums and been thanked by other forum members nearly 4000 times. I think it's fair to say that the Waze community is a major part of my life and something I'm heavily invested in.

Recently, however, I have been become very disillusioned with Waze - to the extent that, at the beginning of October, I quit. I stopped editing the maps. I stopped visiting the forums. I stopped visiting the Global Champs, UK Champs and UK Admins Hangouts/Slack channels. I disabled PMs and all notifications. For over a month, I had nothing to do with Waze. However, I have discovered that I cannot easily do without something that's so important to me and I cannot turn my back on a community of editors I have worked so hard to help. So I'm back, but with something to say about it. I'm also VERY long-winded so I'm sorry: this is a long post.

So why have I become so disillusioned? It's simple enough. The standard of Waze HQ's communications with the community is crap. As a community of editors, we provide a massive amount of value to Waze; and HQ's response is to ignore us at every turn whilst doing their very best to make our lives more difficult.

As a Global Champ, part of my role is supposedly to be a communication channel to HQ - and that is a joke. If you feel frustrated because HQ never listens, how much worse do you think I feel when they won't listen to someone they appointed to talk to them?

HQ are always saying "we need examples". Here are a few:
  • The last official feedback topic for a production editor release created by HQ was on 15th August. There have since been several new WME versions released, so the comments on the original topic now cover at least 4 editor versions. Total number of responses from HQ: one, posted the same day the topic was opened. A more appropriate title would be "Feedback to be ignored"
  • I wanted to tell you when the last staff-posted Official Feedback topics were for iOS and Android app versions. But do you know what? I can't find one at all!
  • I have been told face-to-face by Waze staff that "we do not monitor the forums"
  • The Parking Project was prematurely released with essential features missing and it took weeks of screaming at HQ until they finally agreed not to proceed any further; they still haven't answered all of our questions
  • Parking places import was promised to be tested. Instead a full import was done and screwed up the maps.
  • Parking place MPs are STILL re-appearing interminably. I think everyone has given up complaining about it.
  • Despite many promises in the past to try & work with the script writers, we get no help whatsoever. Every update still breaks half the scripts and we have to scramble to work out how the devs have screwed us this time - whilst your unpaid editing work is impacted by the failure of the tools we provide to help you.
  • The ROTW weekly scoreboard stopped rolling back to zero each week at the start of September. I reported this on Sep 20th, when the scoreboard also stopped updating completely. One day later, Waze staff responded to say it was fixed and marked the topic solved. It wasn't - the weekly scores kept increasing. All further posts in that topic have been ignored. A PM to the staff member who replied remains unread. The problem only finally resolved last week.
  • The Global Champs have a Direct Access forum to alert HQ to problems. I just reviewed 23 topics on the first page:
    • 7 topics have been answered and resolved by HQ. (Note that I may not like the answers, but they're there).
    • 6 topics have had an answer from HQ, but remain unresolved and are waiting for a further answer.
    • 10 topics have had no acknowledgement from HQ at all.
  • I hope you all know where the status page is? If you check it when there's a problem, you'll know status updates of problems are extremely rare
  • October is "holiday season" in Israel. So for most of October, it is especially hard to get a response from HQ. But Waze is a global service! July/August is "holiday season" in the UK, but my company maintains a full service and doesn't let everyone go away at the same time!

So what could HQ do about this? The Global Champs and the editing community are willing to help, but this will never get better until Waze stop lying to us by saying "we will improve". They actually need to get off their butts and make some changes.

I have some suggestions. Some of them may never happen, but this indicates the sort of thing that is desperately needed to maintain our willing involvement.
  • Every topic in Direct Access to have a guaranteed staff response within 24 hours. The same for any further questions on the same topic.
  • No topic in Direct Access to be marked as solved by staff - only by a Global Champ.
  • Official Feedback topics to be posted by staff for every WME or App update
  • Official Feedback topics to be constantly monitored and to receive a minimum of one staff update per week
  • Second post in Official Feedback topics to be reserved for a list of current issues and kept updated by staff
  • Some degree of general forum monitoring by staff to be introduced
  • No new features to be introduced without a consultation period with the Global Champs. We are committed to maintaining confidentiality. HQ frequently don't seem to understand how WME or the App are used. Our involvement could help avoid the sort of pitfalls that have made the Parking Project such a disaster.
  • Proper monitoring of the scoreboard and drives update processes, with Status updates when any problem lasts beyond 3 days
  • Status updates for other problems - so we don't have to deal with so many posts about the same problem
  • A select group of Global Champs to have access to post Status updates. Maybe only half a dozen champs, but with an emphasis on having good geographical/language coverage.
So what can we do about this?

There has been some discussion amongst a few Global Champs about going on strike. The first problem with this is simple enough: HQ are already expert at ignoring us. If we went on strike, there would be fewer posts for them to ignore. The bigger problem is that we don't "work" for HQ - we work for you. The Global Champs dedicate a lot of effort to supporting and nurturing the Waze community around the world. If we down tools, you suffer far more than HQ does.

There's not much we can do, but here are some suggestions:
  • A long way away, at the top of this post, is a little thumbs-up icon. Thank this post. When HQ eventually come to read it, let them know that 10 or 100, or 1000 community members agree with my sentiments.
  • Tell other people to check out this topic. Some editors don't often look outside their own country forum
  • This is the time of year when Waze are asking us to start organising next year's Meetups. Make sure that every meetup has an "HQ-Communication Issues" item on the agenda. Ask your Community Manager which member of staff will be addressing that issue.
    [EDIT] I am withdrawing the suggestions below and asking you not to email Waze staff any more, or automatically refuse cooperation. See here for an explanation. :)
  • If you approve of what I say, email your staff Community Manager and ask them to read this topic.
  • If you don't have the email address, but your country is self-managed, please email your Country Coordinator and ask them to forward the email on. (A big apology to all CCs for what I've just committed you to).
  • Whenever Waze introduce a new feature needing support from the community, immediately post that you will not participate without guaranteed communication levels.
Lastly, I want to say thank you to you for reading this far, especially to those of you who do not have English as your native language. I also want to thank you for being part of a community that has been so important for me. I'm still not sure how long I will be able to put up with the frustrations generated by HQ, but you guys help me do that.
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Re: Staff communication with community is broken

Postby PesachZ » Thu Nov 17, 2016 3:42 am

First, I do indeed agree with a lot that you mention here, and feel there can, and should be improvement. I thank you for the time and courage you spent to write this post, and share your personal feelings with us.

I do also want to give credit where it is due. You mention that there are no feedback threads for iOS and Android versions. That is because the changelogs, beta, and production release notes and feedback threads, including dedicated threads for certain specific features are all maintained in centercode. Granted not every community member or use has access, but any champ can be a beta tester. I must say that staff do participate heavily in those threads and do respond to issues, even postponing releases for show-stopping issues when reported by the users. The other teams in Waze could take an example from them.
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Staff communication with community is broken

Postby omba_de » Thu Nov 17, 2016 5:29 am

Thanks Iain.
I think you have the finger on the pulse...

I also think many great editors decreased their work the last months. And I guess, since HQ loves statistics, that they found out already... not sure if they (re-)act to that, though...

I think the biggest problem of HQ are the standards, given by google.
Take the "parking feature" for example... Apple announced to have a parking feature and a few days later it was absolute top priority for the community to add it to Waze. Google needed it obviously (not Waze. We asked them to wait some more time...)
And therefore the little answers they provided to us were presumably the little answers they got from google... it's just my assumption... perhaps we shouldn't make a difference between Waze and google anymore.

In the end it's just another google maps...
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Re: Staff communication with community is broken

Postby Caradellino » Thu Nov 17, 2016 6:22 am


I have to admit, communication with HQ is down to a view personal contacts...getting lesser with everyone of the old guard that leaves or changes to other Waze products.

I also admit I had quite great hopes after Berlin meetup, but little action followed afterwards. I remember volunteering to Shirli to help with improvement of the road shields...not a single word was exchanged about it since.

I fear Eric is quite right that we feel the spirit of Google having more and more influence on Waze...though I hope we are wrong.
Greets...and keep on wazing
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Re: Staff communication with community is broken

Postby top_gun_de » Thu Nov 17, 2016 7:04 am

Iain, you hit the nail on the head. I hope you send a link to this thread to your respective community manager, otherwise it will get lost.
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Re: Staff communication with community is broken

Postby asterix06 » Thu Nov 17, 2016 8:13 am

Iain , I can only subscribe all your words .. it looks like we are near to WAZE Collapse
...and that's really a pitty.

A clears sign is also the fact WAZE Staff has not been able to detect the editing and activity reduction of GCs
That ,IMO , shows how the GC role is almost exhausted and useless !

Let's take "holidays " from WAZE !

If I can make a suggestion :
WAZE , just in case you should handle next meetups and Global one in TLV , let make the situation upside down :
you will seat in front of us and fir two days we'll be the only one talking and telling you all the problems WAZE is suffering ..
Providing WAZE wants to continue a constructive relationship with GCs

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Re: Staff communication with community is broken

Postby shmupi » Thu Nov 17, 2016 8:15 am

Totally agree with all !!!

I think editing count dropped more than 25% after the last WME release and with it all the scripts were broken. In the past we got a promise from Ohad Ron that they can't promise not to brake things but they do promise to help the community in fixing them.

It's just not fun to edit anymore....I'll put it that way.


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Re: Staff communication with community is broken

Postby JohnDoe75 » Thu Nov 17, 2016 8:39 am

thumbs-up from France ;)
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Re: Staff communication with community is broken

Postby Mynios » Thu Nov 17, 2016 10:15 am

iainhouse wrote:I'm also VERY long-winded so I'm sorry: this is a long post.

Your post could be longer because I miss many other bulletpoints (examples as Waze would say). But this isn't the point. Such a post needs some letters and you hit perfectly the point. There is no need to count the letters.

Many thanks for your post!!! People like you have made Waze successful!!!
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Re: Staff communication with community is broken

Postby Olestas » Thu Nov 17, 2016 10:29 am

Fully agree. I see support quality falling, and Waze turning on ignore button on us.. and then pretend as if nothing has changed. I actually feel like project is stopped.
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