When a Cow is Not a Cow (But Niantic Ingress Support Doesn’t Care)

Cow? Or Fish?

In July of 2015 I started playing Ingress, a sort of science fiction precursor to Pokémon: GO!.

I came late to the game for a number of reasons, but, because I’m a sucker for geo-location entertainment, the fact that I would play this game was an inevitable truth.

Ingress Gameplay. Image credit: Active Wirehead

Ingress, like Pokémon: GO! is a game best played while walking. When my family returned to the U.S. from a year-long trip around the world, we were living a mostly pedestrian life in a small Pasadena apartment. It seemed like the perfect time to start playing, so I downloaded the app and got to Ingressing.

I immediately found that the portals (the Ingress analog to PokeGyms) were prone to certain errors—primarily dealing with an incorrect location and/or name. Fortunately, there’s a feature in the game that you can use to report such errors.

One place that I’d walk by regularly was the the portal named “Juice Farm Cow,” located just outside a juicery bearing the name Juice Farm in an alley in Old Town Pasadena.

The cow that is no longer there.

So that made sense. Except that the cow in question was no longer there. In fact, it hadn’t been in that location for many months because the Juice Farm (which had some pretty good juice) had been replaced by Poke Bar (which has some pretty good poke).

So, doing my part to contribute to the community, I dropped Niantic a note using the in-app notification system letting them know about this change in bovineness and moved along.

I quit playing in Ingress in October of 2015. I had enjoyed the game, but we moved out of Pasadena, leaving our mostly pedestrian lifestyle behind. It seemed like a good time to bring my Ingress career to a close.

Gone, But not Forgotten

Fast forward to Christmas Day, 2016. I hadn’t though about Ingress for more than a year, so I was a little surprised to see an email from Niantic in my inbox informing me that my Portal Review (from July 2015, 17 months prior) has been completed. Here’s the text of the email:

Thanks for submitting an Ingress Portal edit; we’ve reviewed all proposed edits for this Portal and have decided not to make any changes at this time.

We’re not able to provide specific rejection reasons for each edit we review; however, the following are common reasons for rejection:

  • We weren’t able to confirm a suggested location change using available imagery
  • Suggested title changes or descriptions weren’t necessary; the current title/description were already adequate
  • Suggested changes were incorrect or could not be verified

-NianticOps

I’m not sure why they couldn’t verify with “available images” that the “current title/description” is anything but “adequate”—it’s completely incorrect.

Three thoughts ran through my mind in rapid succession.

  1. Really? There’s no Juice Farm and no cow at the portal named “Juice Farm Cow” and hasn’t been for like two years. Why would you not change it?
  2. What? Did it really take Niantic at least 15 months to investigate this only to conclude that a location named “Juice Farm Cow” with no cow and no Juice Farm was correct?
  3. Whatever. It’s your game, Niantic.

I replied to the email saying as much. The only response I received was an invite to “Ingress Help.” It felt like we were were descending into a Brazil-like bureaucratic snarl, so I decided not to proceed from there.

I do hope that one day, maybe in the distant future, the “Juice Farm Cow” portal will turn into the “Poke Bar Fish” portal—even if there’s no fish.

 

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Written by Tom Fassbender

An amateur hobbyist, expert generalist, and outdoor enthusiast who recently traveled around the world with his family.

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