​Google pauses Map Maker after spam attacks - and a urinating Android

Google has suspended its community editing tool for Google Maps after a user with a strong reputation created a large-scale prank.

Google has suspended its Map Maker product as weeding out pranksters' submissions to Google Maps has become too much of a chore.

The temporary suspension affects Map Maker, a tool that is meant for the public to submit new information to Google Maps but has been misused to submit nonsense, such as an Android logo urinating on an Apple logo, which was discovered in April.

Google employed an automated system for reviewing edits from 'mappers', and offered to push edits up the queue if members reviewed other mappers' edits. Contributors were also able to build up a reputation of trust to become 'power mappers'.

According to a member of Google's Map Maker team, Map Maker attacks have been rising in recent months, and the recent Android logo incident occurred because a "strong user in our community chose to go and create a large scale prank on the Map".

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In response, Google suspended auto-approval and user moderation and has instead been manually reviewing edits. However, its team hasn't been able to keep up with the volume of changes needing approval, resulting in long queues - and subsequently decided to suspend edits globally from May 12 until it figures out a way to deal with the issue.

"As you can imagine, turning automated and user moderation off has the direct implication of very large backlogs of edits requiring manual review. This in turn means your edits will take a long time to get published," the Map Maker team member said.

"Given the current state of the system, we have come to the conclusion that it is not fair to any of our users to let them continue to spend time editing. Every edit you make is essentially going to a backlog that is growing very fast. We believe that it is more fair to only say that if we do not have the capacity to review edits at roughly the rate they come in, we have to take a pause."

The company does intend to bring back community editing features in the future but only after it's devised a system to handle them more efficiently.

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