Lifestyle Tech

Learn why two Malaysians decided to become Waze Map Editors

Yusmizan (left) and Lee Zhong Zhen (right) play special roles in the community. The levels 1 – 6 are map editor ranks earned based on their editing contributions while special community roles are given to help coordinate and organize the community.

As most of you all know, Waze is powered by its community – and largely thanks to Map Editors. They help the navigation app with fun, community-centred features, that makes your daily drive easier and a more pleasurable experience. But why do they really do it when they aren’t getting paid? Let Yusmizan Ag Kirah (fondly known as Yus) and Lee Zhong Zhen, two active Waze editors shared what it’s like to be part of the group.

While each editor has had their own story of how they come to be part of the local group, for Yus, a Level 6 Country Manager, Global Champ, and Country Coordinator based in Sabah, the app’s gamification features first caught his interest but he quickly became excited about the editing feature once he found out about it. And so in 2013, this full-time lecturer from Sabah made his way in, and has never looked back since. He finds the time before and after work to balance map editing and communicating with the community. 

Zhong Zhen, a Level 5 Country Manager and Local Champ based in the Klang Valley, came in from a different place. Five to six years ago, there were no roads on the Waze map connecting to his place and those new to his area would often get lost. He became frustrated and wanted to know the right person from Waze, to confront. To his surprise, he found out about this group of volunteers. “Hey, anyone can become an editor and take action,” he thought, and that’s how he became an editor himself. He has since fixed the mapping issue in his area, and also continued to make more edits to his hometown in Seremban. 

So why do they spend so much time and effort on improving the Waze app when they’re not getting paid? 

“I really can’t stand spending time in traffic, sometimes hours at a time, when I can be doing something useful or productive. When someone comes to me, telling me that Waze routed them away from traffic, that makes my day,” shared Yus on aspects which make being an editor most rewarding. 

For Zhong Zhen, it was the ability to correct an error on the map. “That frustration that I had in the beginning is no longer there because now I have the power to change and fix what is not right and I don’t get lost anymore. But it’s not just that, I feel that we can easily rely on each other for support and it is a great way to make friends who have become very dear to me.” 

As editors, they get to be the first to try new features, being part of the beta tester group. This is especially true for localized features that do not go out to all users at once. And even though they do not expect it, they see it as a nice gesture from Waze when they get special swag and merchandise every now and then – it’s things that can’t be bought from a store. 

When asked to share their thoughts on what qualities are needed to be an editor, Yus was only half joking when he said: “You must be a Waze app user – or else, you won’t understand the issues faced. Patience and the desire to help people is also key. While knowledge in mapping is not required as there will be more experienced editors to guide you, it can be helpful.”

Zhong Zhen agrees, adding “You need to have the passion to contribute and a certain level of selflessness. But I’m not going to say it’s all give and no take. Join in to have fun – all the better if you are a sociable person.”

Apart from that, the local Waze community also helped each other as well. They come from a wide range of industries and bond over other shared interests and goals, for example running virtual marathons, turning to each other for help, or even coming together for a good cause. Quite recently, they ran a blood donation drive, an activity they make a point of doing at least twice a year. 

The Waze Community is always looking to welcome more individuals to the community. If you’re interested in joining them then head to https://www.waze.com/editor and learn how to start editing from the Community Wiki. Also, get in touch with the community of editors through Waze Malaysia Facebook group

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