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Author Topic: A perfected incentive system…and then came the app awards Back to Topics
RichWLIN

Champion Author
Indiana

Posts:7,799
Points:1,294,055
Joined:Jun 2011
Message Posted: Feb 18, 2013 7:07:50 AM

The current point accumulation system and $250 lottery sure looks like a well-conceived incentive program that has been very successful in maintaining tens of thousands of loyal followers; some for more than a decade.

Given the success of such an ingenious incentive system, it isn’t surprising that enticements were developed to promote the Gas Buddy mobile app when it came online. Obviously, the app is an additional revenue stream and some form of incentive to post prices was historically well-founded. So, why create a smart phone game that promotes, some say incites, members to enter as many prices as often as they can without any safeguards or merit for accuracy?

The “Suggest a Gas Buddy Improvement” topic seems like a good place to start a member’s discussion on how best to perfect the app incentive system by seeking, and perhaps somehow rewarding, a higher level of accuracy in price reporting.

RG
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TxJeans
Champion Author Tampa

Posts:7,592
Points:858,880
Joined:May 2004
Message Posted: Mar 17, 2013 7:21:00 PM

I can't find the link right now but was looking at a graphic that showed close to 50% of echo boomers text and drive. Each generation older drops off on the texting or talking on cell while driving.

Did find this one that indicated that Txt'ing bans didn't work --

Young drivers, the ones most likely to text, shrug off the bans. Instead of curbing texting, they hold the cellphone in their laps and avert their eyes from the road. They know what they’re doing is wrong, but they are unable or unwilling to change their behavior. This is classic addiction, in that behavior is continued despite mounting negative consequences.
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RichWLIN
Champion Author Indiana

Posts:7,799
Points:1,294,055
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Message Posted: Mar 17, 2013 6:31:58 PM

I was traveling through a university (about 2 miles of street) again the other day. My son and I counted 57 people in cars or walking that were texting or talking while walking and driving.
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TxJeans
Champion Author Tampa

Posts:7,592
Points:858,880
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Message Posted: Mar 17, 2013 9:13:20 AM

@kwzh

Same here - a car leaving the gas station that I think was inputing while leaving rather than before starting up. Quite a beautiful Mustang or Camaro - forget which -- Bam! Not so pretty any more...
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kwzh
Champion Author San Jose

Posts:23,411
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Message Posted: Mar 17, 2013 5:16:43 AM

I almost-witnessed an accident in a parking lot a few days ago; I later wondered if the driver had been talking or texting at the time.
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drgeeforce
Sophomore Author Los Angeles

Posts:248
Points:365,470
Joined:Oct 2011
Message Posted: Mar 16, 2013 3:08:14 PM

My opinion about the mobile app is that it promotes texting while driving. I carpool and often I see single drivers texting on their mobile devices. I wonder how many of them are GB'ers posting gas prices while driving? If Gas Buddy is truly about promoting safety while saving money on gas, they should create an app where the gas station's RFID can be picked up regarding their prices. Drivers never have to take their eyes off the road to log or report a price.
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TxJeans
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Mar 6, 2013 12:36:55 AM

Feel better Sneaker? ;-)
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Sneakers55
Champion Author Houston

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Message Posted: Mar 5, 2013 11:14:25 PM

The app awards aren't promoted as much as the "perfected incentive" [sic] awards. They're only hidden in your phone unless you happen to brag about them.

And how would the mobile app be an "additional revenue stream?" Yes, they have those stupid Bank of America ads but there are better cards out there. They even mailed me an offer in the snail mail and it went straight to the shredder.I'm tired of getting ads for cards that are inferior to the ones I have but the "OPTOUT" feature doesn't allow rejecting only the inferior offers to the cards I already have. Citibank is the worst, at least as long as you make your payments. I have $6000 in free-for-a-year balance transfers that I paid down a good chunk of with a huge tax refund. (I miscalculated the tax on a Roth IRA withdrawal, at least the Feds got my money back fast, but not as fast in the past. All I say it's a lot better to be off too high than it is too low, at least given the amount I missed by!) They keep mailing me more balance transfer checks (which go in the shredder, I'm done transferring balances for a while... although I found a card that's better than mine but it's supposedly hard to get).They also want to offer me a card with ThankYou Points. I'd rather have cold hard ThankYou Cash!

[Edited by: Sneakers55 at 3/5/2013 11:17:55 PM EST]
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RichWLIN
Champion Author Indiana

Posts:7,799
Points:1,294,055
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Message Posted: Feb 27, 2013 11:36:37 AM

The problem with addressing the MSL issue is that this modification has been requested almost continuously since I've been a member. It sure would fix the "Perfectionist" award issue, but it doesn't seem very likely that this will be accomplished any time soon...if ever.

RG
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tdioiler
Champion Author Detroit

Posts:1,014
Points:753,300
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Message Posted: Feb 26, 2013 11:18:31 PM

Hey Zimcity, that's a great idea to link MSL with fuel types that can be posted. Is solves the problem of fill all the types for a 'perfect' score, and eliminates the point pickers too!

Leave the app rewards in, but just improve them. That's what America is all about!
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Zimcity
Champion Author Twin Cities

Posts:71,045
Points:4,298,610
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Message Posted: Feb 26, 2013 10:44:18 AM

"The Perfectionist award seems to be the worst of the bad actors since it rewards input of all four current fuel grades. Many members have called for removing this award."

A partial fix for this, would be the long asked for link to the MSL to only allow price posts for existing fuel types. Though that wouldn't stop people from making up prices for midgrade and premium.

I think getting rid of the Perfectionist would be a start, and probably getting rid of the "station top spotter" too, as that seems rife for potential abuse.



[Edited by: Zimcity at 2/26/2013 10:46:12 AM EST]
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RichWLIN
Champion Author Indiana

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Message Posted: Feb 25, 2013 8:42:51 AM

Gas_Buddy said: "Sorry, but if false price posting is that serious an issue, then maybe eliminating the app awards is a first topic of discussion."

What's there to be sorry about? That you don't think "...false price posting is that serious of an issue"? Or is it because you are arguing against the basic premise of this topic and in favor of abolishing the app awards knowing full well that this isn't going to happen anytime soon?

The app awards are like chum in the water generating fervent interest in participation; particularly from new members who aren't privy to these discussions. It is highly unlikely that "eliminating the app awards" will be an option at least not until this marketing program has run its course and intended purpose, to increase revenue.

It is interesting to me that anyone with a history of challenging changes to the GB point system could argue against or circumvent discussing ways of enhancing or curtailing the app award limits as was suggested in the original post. Most contributing forum members come out strongly against any suggestion of adding to the current point system here on the full web site. Often these long-standing "buddies" chastise new members with rude sarcasm and condescension for ever suggesting these sort of changes.

If adding ways to accumulate points here on the web site is such a problem, then how can having an app point system that rewards limitless price reporting be okay? Seems like a double standard. Arguing for this amounts to a generous dollop of hypocrisy, or argument for the sake of argument, in my estimation.

The bottom line is that management is not going to drop the app awards any time soon. But when they do, how about structuring a system that isn't counter productive in terms of reporting the actual prices at stations? Why not limit the pace at which the app awards can be advanced? It should be patently obvious that in this case less is better if for no other reason than the number of false reports would be significantly reduced. Members playing the game will still come back tomorrow but they won't be encouraged to advance award levels any faster than what a limited sytem would permit...just like here on the web site.

RG
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Gas_Buddy
Champion Author Maryland

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Message Posted: Feb 24, 2013 8:22:56 PM

RichWLIN wrote:
"This topic is really intended for discussion about how to make the app awards less likely to cause price falsification. I wondered when I wrote this if any members would have ideas or suggestions short of abolishing the app awards altogether?"

He later posted:
"The Perfectionist award seems to be the worst of the bad actors since it rewards input of all four current fuel grades. Many members have called for removing this award. I don't have a solution for this either, but it sure seems that one is needed. Every day new members are adding prices for fuel grades that don't exist..."

Maybe the answer is is that there is no solution short of abolishing the app awards altogether. Numerous members have complained that "the station I'm posting for doesn't have mid-grade or diesel" and don't take up the challenge of taking an additional step and finding the stations that do have all four "perfectionist" prices they can post legitimately.

Solutions such as "limit the number of price posts you can make on the app" won't stop members from making up prices either to earn app awards or to earn points to enter the lottery.

If you did eliminate the app awards, yes, you would significantly reduce the reason for false price posting, and you would reduce the incentive for many "honest" members who obviously find the app awards an incentive to post prices. Somehow, despite rising gas prices, or at best fluctuating gas prices, the original good intentions of many members (i.e., helping your neighbors be informed about places to shop for fuel, and their helping you in return) has been supplement if not, in fact, entirely overtaken, by the desire to anonymously earn (win) awards no one sees but that particular member. I did leave out the points being shown on their posting profile (as an incentive) because so many of the app posters seem to not know about what's available on the website, or in many cases admit they didn't even know there was a website.

The primary solution I've seen suggested is variations of "Gas Buddy should monitor the prices..." or "Gas Buddy should check/confirm posted prices."

That's a non-starter. Gas Buddy price posting is, unlike MSN Auto, Yahoo, Motor Trend and AOL gas price posting, is member driven, and member corrected/edited/updated. If Gas Buddy management is supposed to do gas price tracking, the only way to do so would be to have Gas Buddy Direct prices and/or Gas Buddy management posting prices, and take the posting out of the member's hands.

Sorry, but if false price posting is that serious an issue, then maybe eliminating the app awards is a first topic of discussion.
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scrappygirl15
Champion Author Ontario

Posts:2,580
Points:810,085
Joined:Sep 2012
Message Posted: Feb 24, 2013 10:00:58 AM

I started using the app long before checking out the website(s). The app awards really don't mean much, but perhaps if there was an award (i.e. use the awards to make people aware of features as well as posting prices), for using the website newbies (like me) would start checking it out. But then I guess websites would have to be available via the app...
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RichWLIN
Champion Author Indiana

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Message Posted: Feb 19, 2013 9:18:32 AM

The Perfectionist award seems to be the worst of the bad actors since it rewards input of all four current fuel grades. Many members have called for removing this award.

I don't have a solution for this either, but it sure seems that one is needed. Every day new members are adding prices for fuel grades that don't exist; it seems epidemic in this area, so much so that reporting all of the infractions is too time consuming. Once a violator is reported, they don't always cease this activity. It seems that new users fill the void shortly anyway and, in either case, the problem is persistent.

Maybe Mario is right and the punishment for falsifying price reports should result in losing the right to accumulate points altogether, but then removing many members may be counter productive in terms of site growth and revenue? Policing the infractions already seems to be an issue.

I think the answer may lie in the award levels. The current app award structure encourages advancement and instigates a headlong race to achieve the next level, each of which requires more user participation than the previous level. If a snowball effect in price reporting is what the app programmer was after, then he/she must be very proud.

It seems to me that the only way to curtail the number of falsified price reports is to limit the overall number required for advancement. Maybe the app awards need to be much more constrained with daily limits just like the point system is here?

RG
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TxJeans
Champion Author Tampa

Posts:7,592
Points:858,880
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Message Posted: Feb 18, 2013 9:20:45 PM

Sorry- I recently got the APP, and I can tell you I don't even know or care what the awards are or how you get them, so I am afraid I don't have a suggestion other than eliminate the awards. But, like you, I would be interested to hear if anyone has a better suggestion. Maybe games more like the spotting games we had as kids riding in cars on vacation (dating myself?? ;-)) -- something that does not involve the actual price posting that would earn points the same way as on the website, and the games separate from the function of posting prices. Maybe something related to the CS attached to almost every gas station these days?
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MARIOWERX
Champion Author Vancouver

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Message Posted: Feb 18, 2013 6:01:15 PM

Restrict or eliminate all points , consecutive days, or awards for those known to post false or misleading prices.
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RichWLIN
Champion Author Indiana

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Message Posted: Feb 18, 2013 5:54:10 PM

This topic is really intended for discussion about how to make the app awards less likely to cause price falsification. I wondered when I wrote this if any members would have ideas or suggestions short of abolishing the app awards altogether?

RG
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bicycler
Champion Author Ontario

Posts:14,815
Points:2,598,445
Joined:May 2005
Message Posted: Feb 18, 2013 12:20:33 PM

I would like to see a change in the history of points earned.
I have been watching the compiling of my daily points records. My math ability sometimes fails me so I have a sugestion which would save my daily pain.Credit 975 points or 1075 if the member obtaines the maximum daily score.
Continue to break down the points only if the member has earned less then 975 or 1095.

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