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Author Topic: Anonymous "Visitor" replacing correct prices with incorrect, LOWER prices. Back to Topics
RogerB

Champion Author
Indianapolis

Posts:21,146
Points:3,303,400
Joined:Dec 2005
Message Posted: Feb 21, 2013 4:54:16 AM

Recently I have noticed correct, current prices being replaced by an anonymous "Visitor" with incorrect, LOWER prices. So far I have noticed this at only one station on the IndyGasPrices.com site.

The station where I am seeing this is:
Phillips 66
441 E Ohio St & East St
Indianapolis - Central, IN, 46204

After watching this for a while, I realized that this is happening several times per week, and almost always current, correct prices are being replaced with prices that are about 5 - 10 cents lower. In at least most of these instances, the incorrect prices replaced correct, current prices posted not more than 6 - 12 hours previously. I thought that "visitor" prices could only be posted where no current price exists. Am I wrong? If not, this means that a "senior" member must be deleting the current prices before replacing them anonymously.

I posted some examples here: Anonymous "Visitor" bogus (incorrect) prices

REPLIES (newest first) Topic is locked
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bytebug
Champion Author Orange County

Posts:29,503
Points:4,809,945
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Message Posted: Feb 24, 2013 12:19:08 PM

>> I would like to point out that it is my observation that MOST visitor prices do NOT cause any
>> problem and are usually as accurate as member prices.

My observation is exactly the opposite, with Visitors posting credit card pricing, non-existent diesel prices, and just plain outdated (and wrong) prices. At least if they were registered members making these posts, there would be some chance to receive feedback from the moderators to educate them to correct their ways and become contributing members of the Gasbuddy community.

I don't see as onerous the requirement that you register in order to contribute to the site. Few sites these days allow anonymous contributions, as that allows (and often encourages) vandalism. As this site does require you to be registered for EVERYTHING ELSE, I really fail to see any benefit to continuing to allow anonymous posting of data with questionable accuracy.
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kwzh
Champion Author San Jose

Posts:23,528
Points:4,360,705
Joined:Jul 2001
Message Posted: Feb 24, 2013 6:09:42 AM

Historical note -- past versions of the site have differed on how visitor price input should be handled. At one time, it was up to the individual viewing the prices; i.e., there was an option to include or exclude visitor info.

I probably wouldn't have signed up, myself, if I hadn't been given the chance to test-drive the system as a visitor.
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RogerB
Champion Author Indianapolis

Posts:21,146
Points:3,303,400
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Message Posted: Feb 24, 2013 5:58:01 AM

Since I started this, I would like to point out that it is my observation that MOST visitor prices do NOT cause any problem and are usually as accurate as member prices. Since they usually do not show up on the home page or saved searches, I don't see any problem.

The particular station I complained about appears to be an isolated incident that WAS causing a problem. I have not seen it again since Don had it investigated.

Problem solved. Thanks.
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bytebug
Champion Author Orange County

Posts:29,503
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Message Posted: Feb 23, 2013 2:18:36 PM

>> If a fuel price post cannot be viewed by anyone except the member posting the price

In the same way as allowing banned members to continue posting prices that nobody else sees, it would simarlarly allow "Visitors" to evaluate whether it would be worth signing up to become official members, without the bad apples being able to pollute the data with incorrect or incomplete postings.
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scoutmaster
Champion Author Pittsburgh

Posts:99,051
Points:3,940,390
Joined:Mar 2003
Message Posted: Feb 23, 2013 2:11:54 PM

Actually, Gas Buddy, there are those who are banned who when they post, see what everyone posts but you and I don't see it.
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Gas_Buddy
Champion Author Maryland

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Points:3,721,760
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Message Posted: Feb 23, 2013 2:00:45 PM

bytebug:

I'm confused. You wrote: "Another suggestion would be to hide Visitor updates from everyone else, in the same way that (I assume) banned member's prSices are hidden."

If a fuel price post cannot be viewed by anyone except the member posting the price, what's the value of the post? To serve as a reminder of fuel prices for that station in case that same "visitor member" forgets the price (between the time of posting and the time of automatic price deletion)?

That suggestion doesn't seem to have value, in my opinion.
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bytebug
Champion Author Orange County

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Message Posted: Feb 23, 2013 8:07:31 AM

Another suggestion would be to hide Visitor updates from everyone else, in the same way that (I assume) banned member's prices are hidden.
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scoutmaster
Champion Author Pittsburgh

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Message Posted: Feb 23, 2013 7:57:06 AM

I have to agree with those who don't think visitors should be able to do anything but view the site.
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WR-INC
Champion Author Twin Cities

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Message Posted: Feb 23, 2013 6:13:37 AM

Don,

"We recognize that some people do not like committing to things online like registering an account, but still find value in participating and using our service, which we do appreciate."

I can think of gasbuddy system changes made because of the misdeeds of a few. The tainting of the site's credibility is at stake here.
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RogerB
Champion Author Indianapolis

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Message Posted: Feb 23, 2013 4:57:08 AM

I find that anonymous (visitor) prices CAN be posted from the websites of some local TV (and radio) stations, but they won't replace current prices posted by registered members.
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RogerB
Champion Author Indianapolis

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Message Posted: Feb 23, 2013 4:30:55 AM

>> it's entirely possible (if not probable) that the "visitor" is confusing
>> gas stations and inadvertently posting a price for the wrong station.

That's what I initially thought, but I have been unable any station with similar prices to those being posted. I also couldn't find any with the same name or street, and similar prices. The bogus prices always replaced correct, current prices posted by a registered member, often myself. The only way I could figure out to do this is for a registered member (with over 10,000 points) to delete these prices from the full website, and then post the anonymous posting from a mobile app. Does anyone know any other way visitor prices can be posted? I'm trying to find out more about the media websites mentioned by rumbleseat,
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Gas_Buddy
Champion Author Maryland

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Message Posted: Feb 22, 2013 7:14:05 PM

Considering that this is happening at only one station ("several times per week" "for a while"), it's entirely possible (if not probable) that the "visitor" is confusing gas stations and inadvertently posting a price for the wrong station.

If you wrote that this was an on-going problem, at multiple stations, it might be a different issue.
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rumbleseat
Champion Author Winnipeg

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Message Posted: Feb 22, 2013 7:01:52 PM

"Then let's open up the forums and MSL to Visitors"

NO!
With membership comes privileges.
You can buy gas at my Co-Op without a membership. You don't get to share in the profit-sharing.
You can shop at Safeway without a Club card. You don't get Club card special prices.
You can view and post prices on GB without being a member, and you don't get to post in the forums or make changes to the MSL. Even members don't get full privileges without a certain level of participation.

Another note about visitor prices:
They aren't always posted directly on GasBuddy. Many are posted from media websites that post price data from GB, and allow their listeners/viewers to post prices that end up on GB, such as the CJOB Gas Ticker.
Gas Prices for Winnipeg

[Edited by: rumbleseat at 2/22/2013 7:07:19 PM EST]
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bytebug
Champion Author Orange County

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Message Posted: Feb 22, 2013 12:59:45 PM

>> In this particular situation, the incorrect Visitor price was replacing current, correct
>> prices posted by dependable, registered members, sometimes only a few hours old.

That's what I have observed more often than not. The only "service" anonymouse users provide to the site in increasing the ad displays, and I have no problem with the lurkers that visit the site to find cheap gas. There are enough registered users to post gas prices, that continuing to allow anonymous users to pollute the price data with outdated and often incomplete information is a disservice to all the rest of us, merely as a means of increasing the site's ad revenue.
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Don
Moderator
Message Posted: Feb 22, 2013 12:39:50 PM

bytebug,

"Then let's open up the forums and MSL to Visitors if they provide such useful contributions.

I still feel that there are enough "real" contributors that Visitors should be completely eliminated. If not, the prices they post should never replace those of a registered contributor."

As already indicated, Visitor posts are usually not allowed to overwrite an existing member prices, so no need to worry in that respect. Eliminating visiting users from using our service potentially could deter people from using it, which is not an avenue GB should explore.

Some features, like forum access, MSL access, price hike alerts, etc are all perks to registering an account, on top of being able to participate in the weekly prize draw. There are features designated as GB member features only for a reason.

We strongly encourage visiting users to register an account when they indicate they'd like to participate in the site more (such as the communicate in forums, make changes in the MSL, etc).

"And once again, the site can't take responsibility for the abuses it encourages through anonymous price postings. If the prices posted by Visitor are wrong, it's OUR fault for not monitoring and correcting them, even though the correct prices may have been posted prior to Visitors overwriting them with bogus prices."

As a reminder, GasBuddy is user driven service, and that users are the reason why prices and station information is available for consumers to help one another save on gas. Registered users or not, any information that is provided our way is appreciated.

Users essentially sustain their own resources when it comes to using our service and finding fuel prices in their area, and it is as only as accurate as you, the users, make it.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but that is how GasBuddy is designed.

Once more, if you notice an inaccurate or outdated price on GasBuddy, please update it with he current price for everyone else in your area to see.

The more prices posted that everyone spots during their daily travels, the more everyone can save on gas.

-Don



[Edited by: Don at 2/22/2013 12:40:39 PM EST]
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RogerB
Champion Author Indianapolis

Posts:21,146
Points:3,303,400
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Message Posted: Feb 22, 2013 9:24:11 AM

>> I still feel that there are enough "real" contributors that Visitors
>> should be completely eliminated.

It appears to me that they have been eliminated from regular website access. As near as I can tell, the only way to post Visitor prices is with a mobile app, and I wonder if there is still any value in continuing to permit this. I can't see any need in Indiana, but perhaps in some parts of the country they still provide some useful information.

>> If not, the prices they post should never replace those of a registered
>> contributor.

That is why this particular problem came to my attention. Most visitor postings do not cause any problem and are usually quickly replaced. In this particular situation, the incorrect Visitor price was replacing current, correct prices posted by dependable, registered members, sometimes only a few hours old.

This appears to have been an isolated incident, likely by one individual. So far, it appears to have been eliminated.
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bytebug
Champion Author Orange County

Posts:29,503
Points:4,809,945
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Message Posted: Feb 21, 2013 11:26:22 PM

>> We recognize that some people do not like committing to things online like
>> registering an account, but still find value in participating and using our service,
>> which we do appreciate.

Then let's open up the forums and MSL to Visitors if they provide such useful contributions.

I still feel that there are enough "real" contributors that Visitors should be completely eliminated. If not, the prices they post should never replace those of a registered contributor.

>> If you notice an inaccurate or outdated price on GasBuddy, please update it with
>> the current price for everyone else in your area to see.

And once again, the site can't take responsibility for the abuses it encourages through anonymous price postings. If the prices posted by Visitor are wrong, it's OUR fault for not monitoring and correcting them, even though the correct prices may have been posted prior to Visitors overwriting them with bogus prices.
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RogerB
Champion Author Indianapolis

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Points:3,303,400
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Message Posted: Feb 21, 2013 3:07:17 PM

Don,

Thanks for checking on this issue.

Typical visitor postings are usually no problem, as they usually appear only for stations with no price posted, and are more often than not correct, or at least close. I have been watching this particular problem for over two months, and have been noticing what appeared to be one individual deliberately posting prices 5 - 10 cents below the correct price, several times each week. These prices always replaced existing, correct prices, usually less than 12 hours old, and only at the one station you identified.

It sounds like you may have fixed the problem. Thanks again.

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Don
Moderator
Message Posted: Feb 21, 2013 10:10:13 AM

'Visitor' prices are any prices posted by someone who does not have an account, or is not logged into their account, this is a system given name to all GB sites and apps.

We recognize that some people do not like committing to things online like registering an account, but still find value in participating and using our service, which we do appreciate.

Some stations can be updated by visiting users if there has not been a recently reported registered user price at a station.

Visitor prices do tend to be more abusive to the system, most of these prices are manually reviewed before being listed, but if the prices are updating existing member prices, these will normally not update.

I asked our developers to look over the price history for station ID 4310, upon review, not all of the visitor prices were being abusive, and they've prevented prices being posted by Visitor from one particular source, which should cut back on the amount of bad prices you're seeing for this particular station.

If you notice an inaccurate or outdated price on GasBuddy, please update it with the current price for everyone else in your area to see. Thanks for your help.

-Don
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kwzh
Champion Author San Jose

Posts:23,528
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Message Posted: Feb 21, 2013 6:17:02 AM

It's not a regional issue. The question being asked applies to all sites. I don't know the answer.
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RogerB
Champion Author Indianapolis

Posts:21,146
Points:3,303,400
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Message Posted: Feb 21, 2013 6:11:14 AM

"Why did you start a duplicate topic here when this is a regional issue?"

Because I wanted to find out if anyone else had a similar problem on other sites.

I was also curious to know whether there was any way possible to post "Visitor" prices that replace current posted prices without first using an established member's account to delete the existing prices.

I am seeking comments from "experts" from other sites and DID NOT duplicate the information posted on our local site, but only linked to it, in case anyone was interested.

I'm sorry if this thread bothers you.
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bytebug
Champion Author Orange County

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Message Posted: Feb 21, 2013 5:15:07 AM

The anonymous "Visitor" account has long outlived its relevance, and they should just disable it. As the OP points out, it's far to easy to vandalize the site. Since registering as a member is quick and free, we should just require everyone to register in order to enter fuel prices.

My experience matches the OP in that few "Visitor" prices are ever correct.
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scoutmaster
Champion Author Pittsburgh

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Message Posted: Feb 21, 2013 5:12:51 AM

Why did you start a duplicate topic here when this is a regional issue?

Moderators, please close this.
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