Looking for ideas for an “unethical” app (1 Viewer)

MNREDR

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Hello, this is my first post so please let me know if there’s a better place to talk about this.

I have an idea for an app that’s useful for travelers who are on a tight budget, or want to be discreet. Basically it would be things like locations of unpatrolled private parking lots, free wifi spots (or methods of obtaining free internet), common police hangouts, public and semi-public washrooms with good privacy, etc. The general idea is listing places and resources that can be exploited, even if it’s unethical, as long as it’s not illegal or enforceable.

I’d love to hear any more ideas you might have. If you’re a traveler, what kind of things would you want to know when in a new place?
 
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EmmaAintDead

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I very strongly prefer to keep information like this as word-of-mouth only and not even share it online. When a spot, scam, loophole, or patrol gets blown up for everyone to see, it gets fixed up REAL fast and stops being relevant. Your app will be racing against people whose living it is to make sure things like this don't happen.

I mean, look at how easy it used to be to scam amtrak and megabus 5 years ago compared to 10 years ago compared to today. One person does it, whatever. Ten people do it, it gets put on a to-do list. A hundred people do it, it gets fixed.
 
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MNREDR

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I very strongly prefer to keep information like this as word-of-mouth only and not even share it online. When a spot, scam, loophole, or patrol gets blown up for everyone to see, it gets fixed up REAL fast and stops being relevant. Your app will be racing against people whose living it is to make sure things like this don't happen.

I mean, look at how easy it used to be to scam amtrak and megabus 5 years ago compared to 10 years ago compared to today. One person does it, whatever. Ten people do it, it gets put on a to-do list. A hundred people do it, it gets fixed.
Yeah, totally fair. I was thinking that apps like Waze set a precedent for indicating speed cam and cop locations without much trouble. But I can see how the things I mentioned are different.
 

EmmaAintDead

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Waze is a little different because it's reactive to real-time police initiatives in a way that prior to Waze was reserved for people who had the money to install a scanner or radar alert in their car. The nature of Waze is that, it responds to how police change, police don't change in response to it.

The nature of an app that would put info out there about more permanent things like sleep spots, scams, wifi, and hangouts would give the police an opportunity to react to US instead of us reacting to THEM.

Essentially, if the police decide to set up a speed trap, we benefit with our interest in knowing where it is and when it was put up. If travelers decide to set up a guerrilla kitchen, the cops benefit with their interest in knowing where it is. Police try to keep their speed traps secret to anyone who isn't First Response, and guerrilla kitchens try to keep their feeds secret to anyone who isn't homeless or lumpen. An app like this, even if it's in the spirit of Waze, would have an almost opposite function.

I do have a few pet projects where I'm testing avenues to provide related information to related people, mostly focused on anarchists and not on travellers, and I've kept running into this issue in development. If you're serious about this work and it's not just a passing idea, I encourage you to PRIVATELY test out a few avenues and see which has the most promise, and keep developing and working it down to a secure platform that only works for its intended audience. The closest I've got so far is invite codes, but the test run for that was compromised on a closed test within hours, so I imagine real life police would have no issue.

And, honestly, if you put in the work to compiling the info and workshopping some possible implementations, you're more than welcome to keep in touch with me about it, cause I'd love to be able to bounce ideas back and forth about this kind of service. I just can't for the life of me figure out how to do it without either fucking it up for everyone or having a knock on my door from Officer Friendly who "Just wants to talk about my activity"
 
D

Deleted member 26656

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Hello, this is my first post so please let me know if there’s a better place to talk about this.

I have an idea for an app that’s useful for travelers who are on a tight budget, or want to be discreet. Basically it would be things like locations of unpatrolled private parking lots, free wifi spots (or methods of obtaining free internet), common police hangouts, public and semi-public washrooms with good privacy, etc. The general idea is listing places and resources that can be exploited, even if it’s unethical, as long as it’s not illegal or enforceable.

I’d love to hear any more ideas you might have. If you’re a traveler, what kind of things would you want to know when in a new place?
It sounds like a good idea but in the end I don't think it is exactly practical. The problem is that if you have a lot of people going to these places that you speak of then they will get messed up that's just the bottom line.
 

MetalBryan

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Agreed all around - great idea but destructive in execution.

My question is, this app (or service) is inevitable right? I think it’s reasonable to assume there are hypothetical people outside of this forum, with the best of intentions, are already working on this.
 

Hudson

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There use to be these waterfalls out where I'm living now a days. You could slide down them like a waterslide. They were a work of art by nature, entirely safe just amazing pristine water. The internet found them like it like it always does. Well there so many people going there and getting hurt, pooping everywhere and leaving trash everywhere that the private land owner decided to close it off.

Last time I went was about 6 months before the obstructions were put in place and there had to be at least 400 people there. Trash everywhere. We tried hiking out with as much trash as we could but it just was not possible.

I hear stories about this all over the country and it saddens the hell out of me. I don't blame the people from the city acting like wrecking balls everywhere they go; they just do not know any better.

Ultimately your app would cause the same kind of havoc. Any kind of privacy or sanctuary wouldn't last long if it was public knowledge. What comes to mind is that movie in the early 90's, "The Beach".
 

Jackthereaper

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There are public washroom apps, free campsite apps, and waze covers the cops so i think a good bit of this info is already out there if you know where to look
 
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Matt Derrick

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I agree with most people that putting stuff online like this in general gets it blown up.

That said tho, I do think there could be a way to make it work that would reduce 'information leak' as much as possible.

We had an 'atlas' on here a while back, which was basically a place to put up cool destinations everyone should check out. No one used it. Or rather, people would read it, but not contribute information. So I eventually shut it down.

I think the fear was people didn't want their spots blown up as has been stated already in this thread. But, I have some ideas on how to prevent that (as much as it can be prevented online).

I haven't had time to implement it yet, but I've been thinking about re-doing the atlas as a purely "city guides" section where anyone could post a guide to their city, or contribute info to someone else's city, and it would be along the lines of what the OP is talking about.

But how to keep that info out of the hands of the enemy you say? The only way it would work is to make it members-only. You'd need a StP account to view that area. No guest viewing, no google indexing, etc. Basically invisible to anyone that isn't logged into StP with an account. This is exactly how our train hopping section of the forum works.

Of course, there's nothing stopping a police officer from registering an account and viewing that area. But, the chances of that happening are pretty slim, and what they could do with that info isnt all that much unless there's just happens to be a city they patrol in listed. So basically, you're bottlenecking the entrance to said info to reduce the likely hood of bad actors, while still making it available to those who need it without going through bs vetting processes and whatnot.

So how would people know it even exists? Well, like @EmmaAintDead mentioned, keeping it word of mouth is the best way to go, but this would just take it up a notch, giving people a place to refer to for that info but keeping that place word of mouth.

My biggest worry here is that, well... this community is a bunch of lazy fucks, and it's really really hard to get anyone to do anything harder than make a forum post, even if it's to help themselves, much less their fellow travelers.

Sucks to say, but it's true. I've invested my own money into several attempted projects like this on StP, waited 6+ months for it to get used and it never does. So I'm a bit hesitant to put my time and money into doing such a project again.

It's something I'd like to see happen, I just don't have the faith that folks will step up to help their fellow wanderers in this way.
 

Brodiesel710

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Why would anyone REALLY need this, when you travel, self-reliance is key, just look around, resources are everywhere. Why would we want to put more trust into phone apps when we have our own wits? Just more time spent staring down at our god damn phone.
 
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Matt Derrick

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Why would anyone REALLY need this, when you travel, self-reliance is key, just look around, resources are everywhere. Why would we want to put more trust into phone apps when we have our own wits? Just more time spent staring down at our god damn phone.
I mean I understand what you are saying, but the point of StP has always been to provide resources to those that need them. But again I'm not really picturing an 'app' for resolving this either.
 

Beegod Santana

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I think it would be fine if you kept it really general, like "free parking may be available in x district." "Walmart is rv friendly" "travelers congregate on the waterfront" ect.. but anything more explicit would definitely lead to shit being blown way up. I remember back in 06 someone made a map of all the best dumpsters in Portland and Seattle, it did not go well.
 

roughdraft

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I think it would be fine if you kept it really general, like "free parking may be available in x district." "Walmart is rv friendly" "travelers congregate on the waterfront" ect.. but anything more explicit would definitely lead to shit being blown way up. I remember back in 06 someone made a map of all the best dumpsters in Portland and Seattle, it did not go well.
thank you for being the sane voice of reason
 

Dameon

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This sort of thing could work without blowing stuff up, if people had to have a referral code from a reputable user to set up an account, and if a user got a referral code to give out after a certain amount of verified contributions. Then you limit access to people who probably aren't cops or tweakers, and even if somebody has bad judgement about who they give out codes to, they won't have many codes to hand out so it'll be limited impact.
 

EmmaAintDead

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This sort of thing could work without blowing stuff up, if people had to have a referral code from a reputable user to set up an account, and if a user got a referral code to give out after a certain amount of verified contributions. Then you limit access to people who probably aren't cops or tweakers, and even if somebody has bad judgement about who they give out codes to, they won't have many codes to hand out so it'll be limited impact.
on my first round test for a similar thing (mentioned above) with referral/invite codes, this security measure was bypassed with a "cop" (in actuality, a friend acting as a cop would in order to test this feature) gaining physical access to the phone of a user. That "cop" then sent an invite code to himself, and had access to everything just like that.

I'd imagine that once word got out about a traveller app that had good info on it, bulls would be going through phones of every crusty they pull from an owlhole
 

Dameon

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I'd imagine that once word got out about a traveller app that had good info on it, bulls would be going through phones of every crusty they pull from an owlhole
I doubt it. I've never had a bull like, search me for my CCG and take it, which they could easily do and get away with. So far as I can tell, the app has nothing to do with trains, and honestly, most cops aren't detectives trying to solve the great case of where train hoppers dumpster dive. That said, a PIN lock on your phone means it's constitutionally protected from unwarranted search, so be sure to do that anyway.
 

Matt Derrick

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I think we've already agreed there's no such thing as as 100% security in this kind of thing so there's not much use in going through theoreticals. Also, you screw the lid tight enough and there's not going to be anyone left to contribute information to such a database in the first place.
 

r3yn

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For my opinion, I think it's a great idea.
Limitations or potential pitfalls have been mentioned, but overall, I think the benefits of sharing information (and by extension, community building) far outweigh the risks.
Do we live life in fear of consequence or do we live life in hopes of discovering new experience?

I think what @Dameon was saying about invite codes is a good idea. And I also think that cops wont care that much to shut down a good dumpster to dive or a roof to sleep on or whatnot. Overall, I think LE is still overburdened with too much bureaucracy and stupid people, which helps others hide in the cracks of the huge machine.

Yeah, sure, we may look at our phone more. But it's still new experience, for us. And I don't know about you guys, but before / while I'm vagabonding, I check and contribute to sources of real info (like here on StP, Wikivoyage, UER, etc.). Then I write real tips about the place, in hopes other vagabonds see it and use it, too. Normies don't care about a tip for an unlocked steam tunnel or a catch-out spot or a good stairwell to sleep in.

That's my take on it. I say "go for it", @MNREDR.
Or at least let's share some tips for Van and the Lower Mainland by PM. XD
 

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