Google Places: Community Edits


Andy Kuiper just pointed out to me, that in addition to the random UGC discussed this morning, that full on community edits of a claimed listing have returned to Places. The new (back to the future sort of new) community editing system allows logged in users to edit any listing via Places whether it is claimed or not by simply clicking on the Edit this place link on a Places Page.

Apparently the edits are referred to MapMaker editors for approval. It is not clear if all edits can be approved by a senior volunteer editor or if they will still require approval by Google staffers. MapMaker, introduced to the US in April of this year, was introduced into Canada the day before yesterday. Volunteer MapMaker editors achieve trust in the system by doing edits themselves and by doing accurate approvals of other’s edits. What they might or might not know about conditions on the ground is not considered important so editor quality varies.

The return of full blown community edits is an open invitation to abuse. The editors in the MapMaker environment are mostly honest, hard working souls but like those in all Google forums, have more on their plate than can be handled responsibly and it certainly opens up new pathways for corruption. It is not at all clear that adequate safeguards are in Place.

Let the fun begin.


It’s Tax Time but Don’t Search for the IRS in Sturgis MI

It’s tax time so folks all across the US are calling the IRS with questions. Where are many of them getting the number? Well Google of course.

If you live in Sturgis, MI (population 10,696) though you need to be careful. If you search for the IRS in Sturgis, you will be given the local airport instead whose 3 letter airport code is… IRS. If you call the number you might just can earful rather than helpful tax advise. Ah the power (and the pain) of Local Search.

From the forum (bold is mine):

IRS is the airport code for Sturgis, MI. It comes up in google search/maps & everyone is calling us for their taxes!!!!

About 2 months ago we started receiving phone calls from individuals wanting to contact the Internal Revenue Service. We are the Kirsch Municipal Airport located in Sturgis, MI and our FAA Airport code is IRS. Somehow, when people google search/map IRS – our information comes up – not the Internal Revenue Service. We get 20-50 calls a day for the Internal Revenue Service – even after hours and on weekends.

2 weeks ago, I sent several report a problem issues to google maps – with no response from them. I have sent them several every day since – with no response from them. I rated it a bad rating with information why also.

Last week I figured out how to request a change to the information on google maps. I submitted the change and received a response that said they’d look at it an let me know. Still – no answer.

I am sooo fed up with this issue and please help me fix it asap! Thanks!

The problem points out not just the power of having a popular search term ranked highly in local but the frustration felt by those on the wrong end of the accuracy issue and the struggle that novice users find with Google’s interface. The user discovered the report a problem link, then went on to the community edit. She has yet to find the claim link but hopefully that will occur shortly.

Google Places Mobile Option to Only Show Open Businesses

Google Places Search on the iPhone and Android now offers an option to show only business that are open. The feature is available in Places search and filters out not just restaurants that are closed but restaurants for which Google is not confident of their hours. I performed the following search yesterday afternoon for Restaurant Spokane:

All Places:

Only Open Places option selected:


It is not totally obvious from the screen shot but the ranking was significantly altered when the top two Places listing completely disappeared. Not because they were actually closed but because the listings were not claimed and Google had been unable to find their hours elsewhere on the net.

Bing recently noted while presenting at the GetListed Portland seminar that 50% of all restaurant queries are now originating on mobile phones. If that fact and this feature is not enough to motivate business owners to claim their listing and populate it with accurate information, I am not sure what is.

Related posts:

  1. Google Maps Offers Refine by User Rating & Neighborhood Option
  2. Will Google Maps Coupons Rise From the Dead with the New Mobile Option?
  3. Google Places Tightens Up Verification Process for New Businesses