Feedback Time

Before the age of digital cameras, it was said that the average American family went through two rolls of film per year (summer vacation, Christmas). You probably have some good photos from your youth, but those were what was worth saving after removing two with the lens cap on, three with a thumb over the lens, four out of focus, five where someone blinked… Whatever rosy view of the past may exist, people were at least as bad of photographers back then, and almost certainly worse. If 90% of everything is crud, taking 50 quick pictures per week will give you far more good pictures than 100 careful pictures per year. You can delete the crud. Also, you get better with practice, and you get a lot more practice with a smartphone camera than when you only take pictures at special occasions.

Part of the reason high volume practice is helpful is that you get feedback. If you took pictures over the course of weeks or months, then waited for film to be developed, you had a big gap between when you took the pictures and when you saw how it came out. Digital cameras are even faster than Polaroids: you can see in a second whether or not you took a good picture (and try again with a slight variation in technique). Until you see the results of your actions, you do not know whether to do things differently.

In Ingress, players are encouraged to submit potential portals. See something that should be a portal but isn’t? Take a picture and send it in. The game has an achievement track for it. The developers, however, are in no great hurry to review those submissions, or at least they do not have the staff to do so; wait time is 4-6 months (and that may be optimistic). The average player will have quit by the time his/her portal submissions are reviewed.

Most portal submissions are rejected. A lot of people can submit the same portal in six months. Indeed, that could be part of their filtering: don’t bother to review it until a half-dozen people have submitted it. But also, you as the player have a very long gap between the time you hit “submit” and when you get feedback. Lots of things are submitted that will never be accepted as portals, but you might submit 100 before you start getting that feedback. Many things do get accepted that clearly violate the portal guidelines, so either those “slipped through” or there are informal guidelines that you learn by feeling them out. So submit all the things; it costs you a minute, and it is a shot in the dark anyway. That cannot be good for data quality.

: Zubon