After the “Android mascot peeing on an Apple logo” incident back in April, Google responded by temporarily shutting down Map Maker. The tool was intended to allow user-generated map edits in order to make Google Maps better, but the practical joke required Google to re-evaluate the tool and the approval process used for edits.
The good news for fans of Map Maker is that Google is now reopening the tool next month to the public, at least in a limited capacity. Basically Google is now turning towards the maps community to help handle and moderate edits to the maps.
The new model of operation will see Google picking out trustworthy community members as “regional leads” to help in the review process for future edits over specific regions. This peer-driven model will be used in addition to an automatic approval process, and reviews from Google operators, in order to ensure that incidents like this (hopefully) don’t happen again.
While you can read the full statement on Google’s product forums, here’s the key part of the statement from Google’s Pavithra Kanakarajan highlighting the change, and why they are making it:
Map Maker will be reopened for editing in early August, and we’re looking for users to now have more influence over the outcome of edits in their specific countries. This means that edits on Map Maker will be increasingly made open for moderation by the community. While some edits will still require moderation by Google operators, our loyal users will recognize that this is a departure from how we have operated in the past where majority of your edits were reviewed by Google operators. This has been a request you’ve made for a very long time, and this change should, hopefully, come as good news.
The reason for this change is that every time we observed someone attempting to vandalize the map, many of you acted quickly to remove the offending feature and demonstrated real ownership for maps within your region. We have come to the conclusion that of all the defenses available to keeping our maps clean, the interest of a community of well-intentioned users, is among the most reliable and fast.
It is worth mentioning that the new Regional Lead model means that edit approvals could take longer than they did under the old (mostly automated) approval system.
The first people to have access to the Map Maker outside of Google will be the Regional Leads, but Google will be inviting back users in phases starting in August. What do you think of the new community-driven edit approval system? Let us know what you think in the comments.