Sunday, July 24, 2011

Waymarking Update: If You Are Here, I Am Your Leader

I thought I'd take a break from the Bowie Restaurant Project to give a little update on waymarking. As you'll recall, waymarking is a hobby built around logging the coordinates of particular types of things ("sushi restaurants" and "Maryland historical markers" being two examples), and to a lesser extent, visiting those waymarks. (I wish it were to a greater extent, but that's another story.)

For reasons I myself don't entirely understand, one of my favorite categories is "You Are Here" Maps. So I went ahead and joined the "group" for that category. As far as I can tell, joining a group doesn't actually do anything, except maybe if someone sends an e-mail to the group, you'll get it. The actual functionality lies in the group officers, who approve or disapprove of waymarks as meeting the category guidelines. (For example, using image editing software to add the words "You Are Here" is kind of a no-no.)

After a while, without notifying me, someone promoted me to a group officer for the "You Are Here" maps. I guess they needed more people to review waymarks. So when someone submits a new one, I get an e-mail notification. Since it's not my sole responsibility, I don't feel bad deleting them if I'm busy, but if I'm bored, I'll go ahead and check them out and approve or (very rarely) disapprove.

A few weeks ago, the group leader decided he had enough other things going on, so he asked for someone to take his place. I have enough other things going on myself, but I couldn't figure out any actual additional responsibility I'd have to take on, so I stepped up to the plate.

So now I'm the group leader. I still haven't figure out any additional responsibility, and the title is cool. Except...the poorly-worded requirements for posting a waymark in that category had always bothered me.
YOU MUST POST PHOTO OF THE WORDS "YOU ARE HERE". Additionally this must be the default photo for submission. ( If you do not have this your waymark will not be approved ) Please list the coordinates and have a photo of the Map ( it needs to say "you are here" or the equivalent in an other language to qualify ) and another Photo of the area.
To me, this wording was ambiguous in at least two different ways. First, it wasn't clear if the default photo had to be a close-up of the words "You are here", or just a photo that had the words somewhere in it. Second, the photo of the area sounds like it might be a request, rather than a requirement. A lot of waymarks got submitted without the area photo. I didn't want to approve them, but I didn't want to be a jerk and disapprove them. So I generally left them for other people to approve.

So using my new standing (if not power) as group leader, I initiated a discussion on re-writing the category requirements. After consultation with my fellow waymarkers, I came up with
YOU MUST POST A PHOTO OF THE WORDS "YOU ARE HERE" (or the equivalent in the language of the sign) as the default photo for the waymark.
  • You must have a minimum of three photos -- a closeup of the words, one of the map, one of the area -- in order for the waymark to be approved.
  • The closeup of the words can be from the same snap as the one of the map, just cropped differently.
  • The area photo can show the map in the location, but it doesn't have to -- take the best picture you can to show people where you are when "You Are Here".
  • If the map does not have "You Are Here" written directly on it, but instead has a symbol and a map legend explaining that symbol, please provide close-ups of both the symbol on the map and the legend.
Things have gone fairly smoothly since the update. We've had a few waymarks submitted that did not meet the new criteria, but they were re-submitted after rejection. And I've reminded myself that while I like power without responsibility, I also like responsibility enough to create work for myself.
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