The Internets Most Devoted Volunteers: Waze Map Editors


Very interesting article about the Waze Cartographer community with many implications for FOAM. Check it out and let us know what stands out that can apply to the protocol’s development! :world_map:

Chad Richey spends 30 or 40 hours a week fixing Waze maps and teaching other map editors his techniques. It isn’t his full-time job. It isn’t a job at all. He does it all free.

But for much of its information, the company relies on Mr. Richey and about 30,000 other volunteers who devote nights, weekends and the occasional odd hours to fine-tuning its maps by adding streets and businesses, updating road closures and responding to user requests for map updates and fixes. In an era of the gig economy, Waze has found a better business model—unpaid labor.

The volunteers—whom the company calls “editors”—accrue points for each map update, rising through the ranks and [earning new avatars as they gain the ability to edit wider areas and more important roads. There are six levels of editors and people can also earn additional titles, showing they oversee a specific region.

Each time Brett Reich is promoted to a new Waze editing rank, his wife, Kristin, asks how much his raise will be. “If someone else wants to profit off it, so be it,” said Mr. Reich, 41, a data-analytics specialist from Tulsa, Okla.

Over recent years, editors have manually entered data on speed limits and HOV lanes across the country. When a Waze official announced the imminent launch of another new feature—one that would require tens of thousands of hours more work for its volunteer corps—the editors applauded. One pumped both hands in the air.

Cartographer Badge Test Release

It’s a bit dated now, but another article that might be useful in this discussion:

One of the issues I see is that adding POIs is a lot less dynamic than the types of tasks that Waze volunteers appear to be doing. I also think that the barrier to entry is much lower.

With, Waze one can make changes in-app, presumably after creating a Waze username.

To add a POI in FOAM, on the other hand, one needs to complete KYC, buy ETH, get FOAM, and get comfortable transacting using MM. This doesn’t seem like much to all of us, but it’s a lot to ask, especially since many of these volunteers tend to be older–people who are retired or have a lot of free time.

I could see these sorts incentives working well once the FOAM map is built out–I’m not convinced that on their own they will be enough to build out the map.


We want to encourage FOAM use as it is valuable to FOAM stakeholders. Those who enter a POI have a stake in the FOAM map.

While KYC was required for the ICO, nothing stops anyone today from acquiring FOAM and entering a POI, or Signal, or in the near future running a FOAM Zone Anchor.(FOAM Miner)

I agree that UI improvements should be high on features going forward. Hopefully a formal bug bounty program will assist that.

Metamask (and hardware ledger’s) are the cost of interacting with a new platform, the groundwork we lay here will pay off in the future as the Blockchain economy matures and the early adopters who seemed ‘crazy’ and off will be recognized as the visionaries in much the same vein as the Internet emerged from a small handful of users, to the world shaping force we see today.


In most places, KYC will be required to get the ETH/BTC that one needs to buy FOAM. I fully understand that these are the costs of being “cutting edge,” but we are kidding ourselves if we think that Waze-level participation rates are available to us given these hurdles. Of course, this hopefully will change as the barriers to entry fall.


Seeing as both Ethereum, and Bitcoin are minable I disagree and yes it is possible that there are ways to incentivize participants. If we imagine a coffeeshop that wants to improve foot-traffic and repeat customers, they could use a smart contract that distributes NFT as a loyalty mark, and some small quantity of eth/FOAM for transactions; there is precedent with Transit cards that allow preloaded values. So the coffee customer receives a NFT with a pre-charged balance. As we are treating it as a Loyalty card, as well as a store of value, there is incentive for both stores and customers to use them.

What is described above requires some work to implement, and once the infrastructure were in place then you would see repeated usage.

I think one avenue for FOAM would be as a frictionless (cashless) option for badges/bands at events and concerts. It’s possible that with the use of FOAM DPoL to allow access to VIP and backstage events for premier customers. Such usage would streamline access (less human checking, mediation) and allow transfer of limited edition items such as emoji stickers or fan photos with the stars.

This is getting a little ahead of where we are, and I would recommend that those who find frustration look at opportunities to improve the ecosystem!


So now the wave of volunteers is going to be comprised of people who mine ETH/BTC to get FOAM? :roll_eyes: Are you aware that it’s more or less impossible to mine BTC/ETH using hobbyist equipment (i.e. GPUs)?

It’s not clear to me how any of your suggestions speak to the question at hand: how do we make it easier for people improve the map?


Very true. I find this comedy bit a good reality reminder, and this is even before learning FOAM specifics.

With this in mind, it will be some time before we can reach beyond early adopter crowd of crypto-savvy.