Not Logged In Log In   Sign Up   Points Leaders
Follow Us    12:37 AM

Message Forum - Read Message

Category: Suggest a GasBuddy improvement > Topics Add to favorite topics   Post new topicPost New Topic
Author Topic: Alternative to interlocking MSL and price reporting. Back to Topics
CampKohler

Champion Author
Sacramento

Posts:13,212
Points:2,097,990
Joined:May 2007
Message Posted: Jan 11, 2013 4:35:56 PM

We have all been looking forward to the day when price reporting forms will be interlocked with the fuel features of the MSL in order to prevent reporting of fuels that are not available at particular locations. Just in case the interlocking is difficult to do or has some downside GB would rather not put up with, I have thought of another method to achieve about the same results.

1. The price reporting part of GB keeps track of the fact that a price was reported for each fuel and grade (an "event").
2. Add a moving-window counter to accumulate, say, 30 days of events for each price input. For example, if a price was reported for a fuel/grade every day for the last month the counter would sit at 30. Events older than 30 days would decrement the counters and newer events would increment them.
3. When a price form (full site or app) is served to the client, the counter values for all inputs are also served.
4. The client software translates the counter value into a range of colors, say,
0 = red
1-5 = orange
6-10 = yellow
11+ = white
5. The user sees the colors and can tell how often in the last 30 days that a particular fuel/grade at that station has been posted. If it is white, he knows that is highly likely that the fuel/grade is one that should be reported; if it is red, it is highly likely that the fuel/grade is not one that should be reported (or at least be questioned).
6. An exception would be the presence of "low" colors for all fields reflecting a likelyhood of low price reporting at the station, say because it has been closed for a while, is in the middle of nowhere and is not reported often or for some other reason.
7. Should a fuel/grade become available and thus began being reported, the color would go "lower" as counts accumulated and eventually turn white even if no update of the MSL occurred.

In summary, the background colors of the price input fields would give a good idea of the correctness of using them without requiring any connection to the MSL.
REPLIES (newest first) Post a Reply
Profile Pic
scoutmaster
Champion Author Pittsburgh

Posts:98,293
Points:3,906,690
Joined:Mar 2003
Message Posted: Jan 16, 2013 5:10:12 AM

You are correct GGG. If a station is listed as temporarily closed in the MSL, prices can still be posted for it. This should not be allowed.
Profile Pic
GoGoGoodyear
Champion Author Los Angeles

Posts:4,609
Points:838,225
Joined:Mar 2010
Message Posted: Jan 16, 2013 5:02:57 AM


Based on what scrapheap provided, "On the android version, while reporting, yes. If searching for diesel prices using either an area search, stations near me in list view or using a map view, you will only see stations that have diesel checked in the MSL" and what CK provided, "a local station... Consequently its status was changed to Closed - Temporarily and it disappeared from the iPhone map" then the MSL is already used to lookup/ display station info so it's probably not a huge leap to lookup the grades and use that info as well.

BTW if I remember correctly, a year or two ago when a station was set to 'Closed - Temporary' in the MSL it didn't prevent the station from showing up in maps (on the full website) nor prevent prices from being updated. If so there has been some improvement already.
Profile Pic
scoutmaster
Champion Author Pittsburgh

Posts:98,293
Points:3,906,690
Joined:Mar 2003
Message Posted: Jan 15, 2013 9:14:11 PM

Yes there is an interaction between the MSL and all prices posted. The interaction is the location and the station name and address. And once they tie the grades checked for each station in the MSL that will ba another interaction.

It's a work in progress.
Profile Pic
MARIOWERX
Champion Author Vancouver

Posts:18,802
Points:2,295,315
Joined:Oct 2008
Message Posted: Jan 15, 2013 8:57:40 PM

We had a station that was old and was half torn down and closed before gasbuddy was even invented, and still had prices posted even though never appeared on MSL but could have been, so there obviously is an interaction between false prices and going all the way for points and racing stripes. But sorry it does not beg as it has not been addressed as a problem yet.
Profile Pic
CampKohler
Champion Author Sacramento

Posts:13,212
Points:2,097,990
Joined:May 2007
Message Posted: Jan 15, 2013 2:42:12 PM

I have a local station that now has big holes in the concrete. Consequently its status was changed to Closed - Temporarily and it disappeared from the iPhone map. So there obviously is an interaction between the app and the MSL, which begs the question of why didn't they go all the way and check the fuel/grade features too? Got me.
Profile Pic
Scrapheap
Champion Author Virginia

Posts:17,553
Points:3,010,045
Joined:Sep 2006
Message Posted: Jan 15, 2013 8:44:54 AM

GoGoGoodyear > Do the GB smartphone apps ALWAYS display the diesel price field when a user goes to report prices, for ANY station?

On the android version, while reporting, yes. If searching for diesel prices using either an area search, stations near me in list view or using a map view, you will only see stations that have diesel checked in the MSL.
Profile Pic
scoutmaster
Champion Author Pittsburgh

Posts:98,293
Points:3,906,690
Joined:Mar 2003
Message Posted: Jan 15, 2013 5:13:46 AM

"Do the GB smartphone apps ALWAYS display the diesel price field when a user goes to report prices, for ANY station?"

Yes

"Do the apps provide the ability to report/update on a new station by entering the brand and location while updating prices?"

No

"Or is the price reporting ability of the apps limited to existing stations, similar in scope to that on the GB mobile (m.citygasprices.com) website?"

Yes
Profile Pic
GoGoGoodyear
Champion Author Los Angeles

Posts:4,609
Points:838,225
Joined:Mar 2010
Message Posted: Jan 15, 2013 12:09:43 AM


Do the GB smartphone apps ALWAYS display the diesel price field when a user goes to report prices, for ANY station?

Do the apps provide the ability to report/update on a new station by entering the brand and location while updating prices?

Or is the price reporting ability of the apps limited to existing stations, similar in scope to that on the GB mobile (m.citygasprices.com) website?

Asking because I have a hunch why price reporting isn't tied to the MSL.
Profile Pic
CampKohler
Champion Author Sacramento

Posts:13,212
Points:2,097,990
Joined:May 2007
Message Posted: Jan 13, 2013 9:45:51 PM

It was added on the 11th.
Profile Pic
scoutmaster
Champion Author Pittsburgh

Posts:98,293
Points:3,906,690
Joined:Mar 2003
Message Posted: Jan 13, 2013 6:36:06 PM

This idea hasn't been added to your wiki yet CK? Why????

Profile Pic
Scrapheap
Champion Author Virginia

Posts:17,553
Points:3,010,045
Joined:Sep 2006
Message Posted: Jan 13, 2013 4:25:22 PM

Like jrsva, I will check diesel prices in my area. Generally speaking, if someone reports prices for diesel for a station that does not sell diesel, unless that price is deleted, several other people will post the same price for that station. I guess they figure that if someone else reported diesel, that station must sell diesel, so why not copy it and get credit for the silly app award.

That said, CK's idea will actually do the opposite of what it is designed to do. kwzh's idea is far better. Another good idea would be to simply tie the ability to report or display prices to the MSL entry. It really shouldn't be that difficult. I'd imagine fixing this issue simply does not bring revenue into GasBuddy and really only affects the web site users, and the web site isn't in their long term plans, so why bother.
Profile Pic
CampKohler
Champion Author Sacramento

Posts:13,212
Points:2,097,990
Joined:May 2007
Message Posted: Jan 13, 2013 3:25:16 PM

GoGo: I hadn't thought about an "Are you sure?" prompt. That would probably work fine on the full site where that question has not been previously used. On the app however, that question (or the app version of it) appears so often in so many pricing situations where the price entered is obviously correct (or at least not incorrect) that it will be likely ignored. The users (and by that I mean me) have become so inured to seeing that question pop up that they automatically answer "Yes" without even looking at it. It has become a mere annoyance and no longer serves the intended purpose. So, to sum up, having a question pop up on the app just won't cut the mustard. If it wasn't for GB crying wolf every other price report, it would probably do the trick.

"A wolf, wolf here,
A wolf, wolf there,
Here a wolf, there a wolf,
Everywhere wolf, wolf.
Old GasBuddy had an app,
E-I-E-I-O!"
Profile Pic
scoutmaster
Champion Author Pittsburgh

Posts:98,293
Points:3,906,690
Joined:Mar 2003
Message Posted: Jan 13, 2013 6:21:53 AM

Maybe the best solution is if the grade isn't selected in the MSL for a station, you can't post a price to it! Color-coding adds one more thing that isn't needed. That would be as useful as the mobile awards.
Profile Pic
GoGoGoodyear
Champion Author Los Angeles

Posts:4,609
Points:838,225
Joined:Mar 2010
Message Posted: Jan 13, 2013 2:28:03 AM


Maybe instead of colors, which might require a legend on the screen to remind members of what it stands for, there could be a bar or thermometer style indicator next to each price field. Lower bar = less frequent updates and/or more deletions.

Or maybe the system can ask "Are You Sure?" similar to what happens now if you enter a price that the system considers too high/low for that fuel at that station, if deletions of that field exceed some threshold.


[Edited by: GoGoGoodyear at 1/13/2013 2:32:42 AM EST]
Profile Pic
GoGoGoodyear
Champion Author Los Angeles

Posts:4,609
Points:838,225
Joined:Mar 2010
Message Posted: Jan 13, 2013 2:19:23 AM


kwzh's idea of number of times a price was zeroed out might be a nice improvement. The indicator or event counter could take both price updates(+) and deletions(-) into account. A field that is zeroed out might subtract more points than a price update, to give more weight that someone deleting a price is more meaningful (in this case) than an update.

We could possibly expand on that; if the number of deletions to a field per day exceeds a threshold the field would not accept price updates for X number of hours or days while continuing to accept updates for the other fuel grades.


[Edited by: GoGoGoodyear at 1/13/2013 2:22:10 AM EST]
Profile Pic
maxstar
Champion Author Chicago

Posts:22,174
Points:1,465,100
Joined:Feb 2011
Message Posted: Jan 12, 2013 11:54:36 PM

Looks like the Rube Goldberg solution to the issue.

[Edited by: maxstar at 1/12/2013 11:55:02 PM EST]
Profile Pic
nvn8v
Sophomore Author Nevada

Posts:134
Points:750,165
Joined:Feb 2005
Message Posted: Jan 12, 2013 10:11:41 PM

I second CampKohler, especially given that stations such as Costco and Sam's Club only have unleaded and super unleaded (at most locations.) I can't count how many times I've seen Diesel reported at Costco in Carson City when they don't have diesel pumps.
Profile Pic
scoutmaster
Champion Author Pittsburgh

Posts:98,293
Points:3,906,690
Joined:Mar 2003
Message Posted: Jan 12, 2013 9:07:16 PM

Why has this not been added to your wiki, CK~
Profile Pic
CampKohler
Champion Author Sacramento

Posts:13,212
Points:2,097,990
Joined:May 2007
Message Posted: Jan 12, 2013 8:43:30 PM

Well, this suggestion only needs about "Four Shades of Gas," but very good, nevertheless..

For a slightly different take on the voting method, read #3 in this old suggestion.



[Edited by: CampKohler at 1/12/2013 8:46:56 PM EST]
Profile Pic
MARIOWERX
Champion Author Vancouver

Posts:18,802
Points:2,295,315
Joined:Oct 2008
Message Posted: Jan 12, 2013 8:25:43 PM

CK is right.
From NY TIMES Best selling......
Hopeless
The Forgotten
Close but not on the list
50 Shades of Gas.

[Edited by: MARIOWERX at 1/12/2013 8:26:57 PM EST]
Profile Pic
CampKohler
Champion Author Sacramento

Posts:13,212
Points:2,097,990
Joined:May 2007
Message Posted: Jan 12, 2013 4:34:22 PM

Nonsense! Two of my suggestions are on the New York Times Bestseller List, but none of my novels made it. Go figure.
Profile Pic
TxJeans
Champion Author Tampa

Posts:7,592
Points:858,880
Joined:May 2004
Message Posted: Jan 12, 2013 11:01:53 AM

I suspect that this would take more than the tying of the MSL.

And, a counter that might work in a "metro" area would not work the same in a more rural area.

I think you should give up product development and spend more time working on your novel. I think it would have more success.
Profile Pic
CampKohler
Champion Author Sacramento

Posts:13,212
Points:2,097,990
Joined:May 2007
Message Posted: Jan 12, 2013 9:48:32 AM

Oh, come on guys, don't be shy. Let's hear what you really think! :-)

gogo: I don't know what's stopping them from interlocking with the MSL. Yet years have passed and they haven't. I think one could draw the inference from that that there there might be some technical stumbling block preventing it, hence this idea. Certainly if they had done it, I wouldn't have bothered with thinking about it, much less writing it up and getting it all polishy.

As far as depending on the members being meticulous is concerned, that is ameliorated by two things: the fact that this idea accumulates the results of the behavior of many members and that it is only advisory in nature and does not actually block any action. On the other hand, if there aren't "many members" involved with a particular station's prices, because, say only a few members report that station, then the color would only affect those few.

kwzh: Factoring in the number of times a price has been deleted is an excellent concept and shows that you have actually done some critical thinking instead of merely... not. I look at your idea as "voting in the negative direction," whereas the original suggestion is voting in the positive direction. The two complement each other and achieve the same result: warning members that since other members aren't posting that fuel/grade, you probably shouldn't either, and that it would behoove you to at least double check before posting. And that is what this is about, warning and not preventing. (Of course if preventing is your cup of tea, why, you need only wait until interlocking is achieved. Let me know how that works out for you.)

scrap: I didn't know about the Android interlocking for searching. I will have to test that out with the iPhone. That would be an interesting new bit of info. (In any case I wouldn't have discovered that without you telling us as I always search with the PC.)

GB: It wasn't suggested that the colors be presented in price displays, only in price input fields. But now that you have brought it up, it might be additionally useful to warn users that a price could be questionable. That bears thinking about.

With regard to the selection of colors, I thought that red, being the traditional color of maximum warning and the other colors being proportionally graded would be universally understood without further explanation being necessary. Perhaps I was wrong. Will someone look at red and think that it would be OK to proceed without a care in the world? It could be, I suppose. (After all, there would be no problem herding cats if all cats did the same thing at the same time, but of course, we know they don't.) Maybe I should have selected colors like the Bell system did for telephone wiring: they were selected for their apparent brightness and darkness so that even the colorblind be able to distinguish them one from the other. Or, alternatively, set aside colors and use shades of gray instead, with the darker shades representing a higher degree of warning. I will compromise here and just say that for now let's go with the recommendations of the Board of Master Paint Chip Specifiers of the National Association Of Color Consultants. I'm flexible on this.

To the other responders: Thanks for the reminder. In my old age, it COMPLETELY slipped my mind. It's getting so that I can barely remember which way is up ↓.



[Edited by: CampKohler at 1/12/2013 9:57:05 AM EST]
Profile Pic
kwzh
Champion Author San Jose

Posts:23,406
Points:4,328,005
Joined:Jul 2001
Message Posted: Jan 12, 2013 1:00:44 AM

I understand that this suggestion was conditional on the MSL connection not happening, but even with that assumption, I really doubt that it would be very helpful. Number of times that a price field has been *deleted* might be a better indicator of it being questionable.
Profile Pic
jrsva
Champion Author Virginia

Posts:12,863
Points:2,268,780
Joined:Jan 2006
Message Posted: Jan 12, 2013 12:38:48 AM

I will credit CK with some innovative thinking but it sounds like complicated programming with little likelihood of solving the problem. I have been tracking reports of diesel prices for Sheetz locations in Virginia for a couple of months now. A number of these stations that do not sell diesel post a kerosene price on their sign instead. These often get reported as diesel prices. I delete kero prices every day and that does not show the extent of the problem as I’m sure other members are doing the same thing, at least on occasion.

Come on GB programmers, get off the dime and link price posting to the MSL so that this problem will go away.

Profile Pic
GoGoGoodyear
Champion Author Los Angeles

Posts:4,609
Points:838,225
Joined:Mar 2010
Message Posted: Jan 11, 2013 10:58:49 PM


This wouldn't be a half bad idea if we could count on all the members who update prices to pay meticulous attention to details, but I don't have much faith in people's behavior. I believe there would be a problem with getting people to remember the multi-color code, although a legend somewhere on the screen (if there's room) could help.

Worse thing is it still doesn't stop bad behavior where someone repeatedly reports a price (diesel for ex.) just to keep the 'color score' up for their own amusement.

Another problem is the developers will need to add to the database, and might also object to the processing overhead it adds to each price update.

What is stopping them from doing a lookup on those MSL fuel grade fields when accepting a price update from the "Report_A_Price" page and discarding a price for a grade the station doesn't sell? They are already using the MSL fuel grade fields on the "Station_Profile" page that is displayed when you click on a station's name (from the list of stations in a "Search_Gas_Prices" page) so it only show the grades the station sells.

The only thing I can think of is if prices were discarded as I explained, someone could not report a price for a new grade that a station just started carrying until the MSL was updated, which the smartphone app can't do. Maybe this ability to do ad-hoc price updates is more important than filtering out wrong-grade price updates.



[Edited by: GoGoGoodyear at 1/11/2013 11:03:17 PM EST]
Profile Pic
Gas_Buddy
Champion Author Maryland

Posts:30,051
Points:3,688,060
Joined:Aug 2004
Message Posted: Jan 11, 2013 7:16:40 PM

I'm not sure that I understand why I'm supposed to be remembering different colors and what they're supposed to mean, or how (even if I remember what they stand for), how it's supposed to help me.

If I see a red color I'm supposed to think that that price is (or is not) probably more accurately posted than another a price listed with another color, or that gas station is (or is not) more likely to have a certain grade or type of fuel than a price listed with another color?

Seems like a lot of programming work for little value.

Maybe I'm naive and just have faith that most prices posted are a reflection that the station does sell that type of fuel (and can understand that there can be errors).

But the more I tried to read and understand the suggestion, and maybe it's because I'm not a programmer, I simply don't understand the suggestion, and simply get more confused each time I've read the post.

I guess this is being added to the suggested topic list?
Profile Pic
Scrapheap
Champion Author Virginia

Posts:17,553
Points:3,010,045
Joined:Sep 2006
Message Posted: Jan 11, 2013 5:57:33 PM

Seems like a lot of programming when you really only need to add a conditional statement on the web site. The apps, at least the android version, will not allow you to search for grades of fuel not checked in the MSL.

If you are going to count something, I think a better idea would be to count the number of times an individual reports prices for something not checked in the MSL. It could give you a heads up that person may be a cheat and might be subject to banishment. Then again, they don't ban people for reporting diesel at stations that don't sell diesel no matter how often you report them.
Profile Pic
scoutmaster
Champion Author Pittsburgh

Posts:98,293
Points:3,906,690
Joined:Mar 2003
Message Posted: Jan 11, 2013 5:53:06 PM

I don't see this as being useful at all and even more difficult to understand and even more difficult to program.

If someone continually posts a price for a grade a station doesn't carry it will appear the station does sell that grade. And there are numerous stations that only post on or two grades on their signs and carry all grades. It would look like these stations don't carry grades they actually carry.

Oh yeah, don't forget to add this to your wiki!
Profile Pic
MARIOWERX
Champion Author Vancouver

Posts:18,802
Points:2,295,315
Joined:Oct 2008
Message Posted: Jan 11, 2013 5:17:47 PM

posted this to my wiki site!
Post a reply Back to Topics