As background, Niantic Labs (Google) recently asked Stefan Breunig, the main author of the much-loved Ingress Intel Total Conversion (IITC) user scripts (https://github.com/breunigs/ingress-intel-total-conversion/wiki
), to stop working on any Ingress projects and delete the work he (and 50-60 other developers) had done. There is... let's call it "user feedback" in this google group: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/ingress-discuss/give-feedback--suggestions/VWW9i328cP8
There is a petition for Google to allow the IITC here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/free-iitc/
What follows is my open letter to Niantic Labs at Google:
I would like to make a few points regarding your decision that Ingress Intel Total Conversion (IITC) violated the Ingress Terms of Service (ToS) agreement (http://www.ingress.com/terms
), and asking the author to remove the script set and suspend work on all Ingress development.
It isn't clear to me that reformatting the data sent to my web client is a violation of the Ingress ToS. The relevant section of the ToS agreement seems to be in section 3, which states "... you shall not: ... (c) access the Product or Content through any technology or means other than those provided by Google... (d) extract, scrape, or index the Products or Content...".
Firefox, IE, and Safari are similarly not provided by Google, and I am surely using them to "access the Product or Content" via the stock Ingress Intel map; is viewing the Ingress Intel map on anything other than Google Chrome a ToS violation as well? What about a bit of local browser configuration that makes the font somewhat more readable? Changes the color to accommodate users who have limited eyesight, and thus need higher contrast maps? More reasonably displays photos? This describes most of the features of the IITC!
Similarly, it seems difficult to argue that any of these activities really constitute anything prohibited in (d), as the IITC is the Ingress Intel map, just in a different format. The more advanced plugins provide only a convenient interface for accomplishing the same tasks that can be done by separate calculating applications (e.g., the Ingress Portal Calculator, etc.). These separate calculating applications are wholly allowed by your terms of service.
Irrespective of the ToS issue, the IITC provides a useable informational resource that makes the Intel map both more helpful and somewhat less aggravating. Frankly, the standard Intel map is a mess, and the rate of its development is glacial. I understand that Niantic is resource constrained, but in this case it so happens that you have a large passionate volunteer expert-level labor force working on a project that helps the entire player community. Not many people have such a resource, but you have been blessed by it here.
So, here's the choice that you were presented with:
Choice 1: encourage the 50-60 people doing free work for you, improving your product and benefitting your entire user community. This costs you nothing. You could even signal that you value their time by coordinating with them on data changes. You benefit, the user community benefits, your volunteer labor force feels appreciated, and your influence within the nascent open Ingress developer community grows. Your user community sees that you are willing to try to overcome your resource problems, and are thus more willing to forgive slow roll outs of... well, just about everything other than artificial-feeling product tie-ins that interfere with game dynamics.
Choice 2: Demand that they abandon the work they have been doing because it is violation of a deliberately vague ToS agreement. Ignore the user community's complaints that this decision seems capricious and petty. For a little bit of extra pepper, delete posts by users pointing out that the project that you are in effect shutting down was open source, and will thus move to a set of authors who are prepared to ignore Niantic's input. In this case, your user community gets the distinct impression that you don't give a damn about them, because you are apparently going out of your way to make their playing experience less enjoyable.
I think that "Choice 1" was the obvious one, but you apparently didn't think so.
Your reaction is dumbfounding. It's like you are a homeowner yelling at the volunteer fire brigade who is using your pool water to try extinguish your burning house because of the posted firm "no splashing" policy.
So Niantic: Please allow the IITC to continue.
Joshua Hill (Ingress agent Sabon)