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There are three types of restrictions that can affect an editor's ability to change the map:
- Traffic locks
- Manual locks
- Driving / editable areas
If any of the three restrictions apply for that editor to a particular part of the map, he or she will be unable to edit that part.
Traffic locks and manual locks work very similarly. They apply to individual road segments, and are there to protect "important" roads from accidental damage or any road vandalism.
Editable areas exist to make sure that an editor only edits areas where he or she has some familiarity with the roads, having driven there recently. It is not limited to the roads the editor has actually been on, but to the surrounding area as well.
Traffic locks are automatically applied editing locks for certain road segment. They are applied by the Waze servers to road segments that have a high volume of traffic that traversing them. There are six levels of locks, corresponding to the editor rank system (every editor have 1 to 6 traffic cones, based on editing experience and decisions by Waze and senior editors).
Roads with low volumes of traffic will have a rank 1 lock, which is equivalent to no lock at all, since the lowest editor rank is also 1. Roads with somewhat more traffic will be locked at rank 2.
The busiest roads -- generally, the top 10% traveled roads in an area -- will be locked at Rank 5, so that only rank 5 or 6 editors can edit them.
Generally, rank 3 or 4 should be able to edit about 90% of the roads in their areas, unless manually locked by a senior editor (see below).
Users with 5 and 6 cones can edit 100% of the roads.
Editable areas (driving areas)
Combined locking scheme
The first two are both locking systems that apply to specific segments for the 6 editor ranks. The third is based primarily on geography (areas surrounding the editor's recorded drives are open to the editor if there is no manual or traffic lock, other areas are restricted for the editor, even if there is no traffic lock and no manual lock).
For the two locking systems, the effect is combined by choosing the more restrictive of the two locks present on a segment.
Here is the combined effect of the three restrictions:
- Editors may edit only in their areas. Even if a road is otherwise not locked at all, an editor can't edit the area unless Waze knows the driver was in the area within the last month or so.
- Traffic locks further restrict roads. Segments are always "locked" at least to the traffic lock rank, meaning that editors below the traffic lock rank can't edit that segment of road, even within their driving areas.
- There is also a second, manual locking system, separate from traffic locks. If an editor has locked a segment to a rank, Waze will look at both the manual lock and the automatic traffic lock, and use the stronger of the two. Editors cannot lock the road higher than their own rank, meaning, they can't lock themselves out of a segment. However, it is possible to lock a segment to be less restrictive (a rank 4 user can lock to rank 3, so that only rank 1 and rank 2 are restricted form editing)
- There is no way to manually unlock a traffic lock. If it is locked at rank 4, then even a senior editor will be unable to grant editing rights to editors who are rank 1, 2, or 3.
- It is possible for a higher-ranked editor to remove a manual lock, or to reduce its rank. However, that is only effective when the automatic traffic lock is at or below the newly-lowered manual rank, or if the traffic lock is later automatically removed due to reduced traffic volume over time.
- In a new development, the city is laying out new streets. A driver "plows" a new road, Lockrank Street. Initially, there is very little traffic, so there is no traffic lock. It has never been manually locked. So, by default the traffic lock is 1, and by default the manual lock is 1. The combined lock is 1, so anyone can edit it,
- Lockrank Street gets vandalized a number of times by brand new users (rank 1), so the Area Manager applies a rank 2 lock to it. There is still no traffic lock (i.e., traffic lock is 1). It is now effectively locked to the manual lock, rank 2. New editors (rank 1) can't edit it, and can't edit the junctions at either end of it. Editors ranked 2-6 can edit it and its junctions.
- A new editor notices that the road name has changed to Newlock Road. She tries to edit it, but discovers that is is locked at rank 3, while she is rank 1. She goes to the unlock request forum, and requests the change. The Area Manager reduces the manual lock rank to 1. Since there is still no traffic lock, the lock is effectively removed. The new editor makes the change. The Area Manager changes the manual lock back to rank 2 to continue protecting from vandalism.
- A new cross street, Junction Lane, is added to the street grid, and another driver plows it through. He is a rank 2 editor. He goes into the editor to name it and connect it to Newlock Road. He is able to, because he is a rank 2 editor.
- Drivers find Newlock Road is a good way to get across the city, s it starts receiving a lot of traffic. Waze applies a traffic lock of 3. Even though the manual lock is 2, the traffic lock is stronger in this case, and the road is effectively locked to the traffic lock. It can now only be edited by rank 3 editors and above.
- Another cross street, Development Way, is added to the grid. The rank 2 editor goes to add it, and finds he is unable to create the junction onto Newlock Road. He goes to the unlock forum to ask for the lock to be lowered to 2, so he can fix the map. The Area Manager tells him that the lock can't be lowered, because the traffic lock overrides it. The Area Manager makes the change on behalf of the driver instead.
- Myles Opia is a rank 1 editor. He misreads some sign information, and changes the name of Development Way to Developer Way. It gets flipped back and forth a number of times. However, traffic has been building on it, and it gets a traffic lock of rank 2. Stopping Myles Opia form further incorrect changes.
- Myles Opia has edited enough roads to attain rank 2. He starts changing it again. The Area Manager locks it to rank 3. Since this is higher than the traffic lock of 2, it overrides the traffic lock, and the road can't be edited by rank 1 or 2 editors.
Traffic locks are only implemented in some countries at this time. The list below is not complete.
The system is ready for traffic locks, but they are not yet implemented due to some problems being worked on. Details are being worked out. The primary problems preventing it form being tiurned are:
- No segment should be automatically locked to rank 6. Rank 5 should be the maximum, because of the limited rank 6 resources, and the generally accepted level of trust in rank 5 editors.
- Area Managers need immunity from traffic locks within their managed area, or they won't be effective in managing them. This will unnecessarily increase the burden on higher ranked editors, who have assigned the Area Managers based on their trust level within the area.