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Editing restrictions

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Revision as of 23:47, 13 February 2014 by Dbraughlr (Talk | contribs)

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There are three restrictions that affect an editor's ability to change the map:

  • Driven / editable area
  • Traffic lock
  • Manual locks

Any of the three restrictions means an editor is not permitted to edit that object on the map.

A traffic lock and a manual lock function similarly. They apply to individual road segments and are there to protect "important" roads from accidental damage or vandalism.

Editable areas exist to ensure that an editor edits only 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. Editable area includes the entirety of areas of assigned responsibility.

Restriction types

Editable area (driving area, management area)

Template:Editable areas

Traffic lock

Note: Traffic locks are a new feature. They are fully implemented in some countries, and partially developed for others. See the applicability of traffic locks section below for more details.

A traffic lock is an automatically-applied editing lock for a road segment. A lock is applied by the Waze servers to any road segments having a high volume of traffic traversing it. There are six levels of locking, corresponding to the editor rank system (every editor has 1 to 6 traffic cones, based on editing experience and decisions by Waze and senior editors).

Roads with low volumes of traffic have a rank 1 lock, which is really no lock at all, because the lowest editor rank is also 1. Roads with somewhat more traffic are locked at rank 2.

The busiest roads -- generally, the top 10% traveled roads in an area -- are 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 or 6 cones can edit 100% of the roads in their editable area.

Manual lock

Manual locks are another form of locked segments of road. When an editor locks a segment, it controls:

  1. Segment editing ability
  2. Automatic adjustments

In the past, many segments were locked for other reasons that no longer exist, but the segments do not get changed unless they are edited again and the editor changes the lock.

Locking of other objects

Locked junction

A junction (or intersection) is considered to be locked if any segment which is connected to that junction is locked. A locked junction prohibits certain modifications. See how to request unlock for segments (which control junctions).

This means a lower ranked editor can't do certain things even with unlocked segments, because the unlocked segment has a junction with a locked segment. In addition, an editor may not join an unlocked road to any road locked to a higher rank.

The full list of restrictions to the junction is:

  • Cannot restrict an allowed turn from the unlocked road to the locked road.
  • Cannot restrict an allowed turn from the locked road to the unlocked road.
  • Cannot remove an existing restriction on the turn, whether it is a full restriction or a time/vehicle type restriction.
  • Cannot allow or disallow a U-turn.
  • Take an unjoined road, and add it to the junction.
  • Take an unjoined road, and create a new junction on the locked road.

However, an editor may change other aspects of the other roads connected to the junction, as long as those roads are not locked above the editor's rank. For example, if a local road (all locks set at rank 1) has an intersection with a minor highway (locked), then a lower ranked editor can't change any aspect listed above but can change the local road's:

  • name
  • shape (except for the end that is part of the junction)
  • elevation
  • direction
  • country, state/province, or city
  • road type
  • whether it is tolled
  • ... and even its manual lock level between 1 and his or her own rank
  • or disconnect from the junction or delete it.

Violation camera editing ability

When an editor approves a violation camera (speed or red light), the camera is locked at that editor's rank. An editor with a lower rank may not change / delete the camera, unless he or she is the owner of the camera or an Area Manager for its location.

Combination of multiple restrictions

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:

  1. Editor may edit only in his editable area. 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 90 days or is an Area Manager there.
  2. A traffic lock further restricts a segment. A segment is always "locked" at least to the traffic lock rank, meaning that an editor below the traffic lock rank can't edit that segment of road, even within their editable area.
  3. The manual locking system (static lock) is independent from the traffic lock (dynamic lock). If an editor has locked a segment to a rank, Waze 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).
  4. There is no way to manually unlock a traffic lock. If it is locked at rank 4, then even a senior editor may not grant editing rights to editors who are rank 1, 2, or 3.
  5. 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 reduced due to reduced traffic volume.


  • In a new development, the city is laying out new streets. A driver "paves" 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 2, 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 paves it. 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, so 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 higher in this case, and the road is effectively locked to the traffic lock. It can now be edited only 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 editor.
  • 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.

Effects of locking

Locks create editing restrictions as described below.

Segment editing ability

A locked segment may not be changed by an editor of a rank lower than the rank to which is was set either by a previous editor or a traffic lock. (See how combined restrictions work, above.)

An editor may edit segments based on Editable area and editing rank. When a segment is locked, only a user with the same or higher rank can edit the segment again. When any segment forming a junction is locked, turn restrictions are locked for all segments at that junction (see locked junctions, above).


When a road segment has a lock, any junction with another segment (intersection) also has that lock. However, the other roads connected to the junction are not locked. Full details are described above in the Locked junctions section.

Note that a junction lock matters only when the segment has a manual or traffic lock. It is not affected by editable areas. If a junction is located within your editable area, but close to the editable area edge, then the junction might have no restriction, but a road connected to it might not be editable because it is beyond the edge of the editable area.

Unlocking an object above your rank

This section explains how to deal with various lock types when you need to apply a change to a segment (or connected junction) or other object locked above your rank.

Requesting changes

There are three methods to unlock manual segments and their junctions, or to request an edit change for any type of restriction.

You need to provide specific information to facilitate your change request. Your private message or forum post should contain the following:

  • Subject: the road lock rank and location. Example: Rank 4: Anytown, NY
  • Additional details to include in the body of the message:
  • Your own "traffic cone rank" -- this will allow the unlocking editor some insight into your experience level, and to know the level of reduction needed in case of a manual lock override. Example: I am ranked 2 cones.
  • A description of the change you wish to be made. Example: I would like to change mapped road geometry to match physical changes to the road
  • An explanation of the reason for the change. Example: The road has recently been relocated and straightened and causes Waze to think you drove off the road. You can see the problem by turning on GPS tracks in the editor screen. I drive it often enough that I am able to make the change even though the imagery is out of date.

We ask for all this information so that:

  1. The correct editor can respond (one with the appropriate seniority and with responsibility for the correct geographic area).
  2. The responding editor can evaluate the request correctly.
  3. The responding editor will be able to figure out the correct action to take (change lock rank so you can make the edit, apply the edit himself directly, ask for more information, ask for more evidence, do more research, or deny the request).

Note that many segments were locked for reasons that are no longer present. However, high traffic areas are locked to prevent less experienced editors from making changes that would cause problems or do not follow the generally agreed mapping procedures.

Also note that if a traffic lock is active, and above your rank, the segment can't be unlocked, and you can't make the edit yourself. However, your request is the same. The responding editor will make the change for you. If that editor needs your assistance to completing the change, he or she will let you know, and if necessary will work out a plan for collaborating on the edit with you.

Staff locks

A special type of manual lock is the Waze Staff Lock. There have been times when a Waze staff member has locked a segment. In many cases, the lock is no longer required. So if you have a reason to edit it, please review this support link to request it to be unlocked. This link is only for staff level locks.

Automatic adjustments

The Waze server can alter road directionality, shape, and turn restrictions based on tracking real-world driving, via GPS inputs. It only does this on unlocked segments and junctions (that is, those locked at rank 1). In the past, Waze was aggressive in making automatic adjustments, in order to improve the vast amount of inaccuracies in unedited base maps. Therefore, it would make changes based on even a low number of GPS inputs.

This sometimes led to incorrect adjustments, either due to inaccurate GPS marks, driving off marked roads, temporary changes to traffic patterns, or illegal road maneuvers made by drivers. To prevent this sort of incorrect automatic adjustment, some editors locked segments to stop those automated changes.

Since the Waze servers now require much more GPS tracking to prevent false readings, most editors no longer lock segments for this reason. However, there are many segments with old, unnecessary locks due to this earlier methodology. If an editor finds a road locked for seemingly no reason, use the procedure described above for changing locked map segments, to request a permanent release of the lock.

Area Managers

The short version: An Area Manager (AM) does not have restrictions based on areas recently driven. Manual locks still apply, and Traffic locks may or may not apply.


Most users can edit only the segments they have driven and the surrounding areas (see above, Editable areas). This restriction does not apply to an AM, within his or her assigned management area(s). Within these areas, an AM may edit any object locked to their rank or lower.

However, locks still apply to AMs. An AM cannot edit anything locked to a higher rank than his own. Whether Traffic locks apply to the AM depend on the Waze implementation in each country. As described above, in the USA, Traffic locks have not been turned on because the editor community has set a requirement that traffic locks should not apply to AMs, a feature refinement which Waze has programmed yet.

When an AM encounters a road he cannot edit because of any lock, he should follow the same procedure as shown above for unlocking segments. In addition, if the regional manager or country manager allows it, he may request action directly from the regional/country manager using whatever channels the they have established for communication.

Note that regional managers and country managers likewise do not have geographic (drive-based) restrictions within their areas.

Applicability of traffic locks

Traffic locks are implemented only 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 from being turned on in the USA 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.

Because of this, traffic locks are not even visible in the standard USA editor at this time. They are visible only to Beta editors.

See also