back to article Pakistan URINE STORM: Google Maps chokes off user editing

From Tuesday, Google is cutting user edits from its Maps after admitting that it simply can't prevent online tricksters from abusing the system. A much less creative attempt, although more to the point Last month, the firm was forced to make some quick edits after a user noticed that someone had created a mythical park in …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    Dear Google, I think the US Air Force has some A-10's it wants to unload. I'm sure you could fix this problem with just a few uses.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've pretty sure google already knows, they've been watching. though it appears there aren't many left, so they'd better act fast.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Google might just take them. They trail advertising banners behind them. The fly in the ointment is they want them driverless.

  2. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    How many edits do they get?

    I just wonder, how many edits do they get that someone approving them can't keep up? I would have thought they would be able to just look at the "before" and "after", make sure it doesn't look like an Android pissing on an Apple, and approve it if it doesn't (i.e., not particularly time consuming.) But, maybe they get a huuuuuge number of edits, or it really is time-consuming to check each one?

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: How many edits do they get?

      How many people have computers on the Internet?

      How many employees does Google want working on this?

      Ans:

      Lots and none.

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: How many edits do they get?

        They could solve it by making it a community reviewed facility, rather than Google reviewed. Give folks points for reviewing, etc..., and a method for reporting numpties, and you'll probably get lots of free help. Sure, there'll still be abuse, but it might be more manageable.

        1. Fan of Mr. Obvious

          Re: How many edits do they get?

          You are implying the Wikipedia model actually works. Oh, wait, it does.

          1. illiad

            Re: How many edits do they get?

            the Wikipedia model may 'work' but is VERY much bound by idiocy, untruths, lies, ALL by the 'editors'.. That is why Wikipedia is mistrusted by many... True it may be only a few fan-based stuff - but it sure spreads the mistrust!!

          2. dogged

            Re: How many edits do they get?

            > You are implying the Wikipedia model actually works. Oh, wait, it does.

            Be honest, the Time to Cock on this was always going to measured in nanoseconds.

    2. gecho

      Re: How many edits do they get?

      Pretty much every individual action needs to be submitted as an individual edit. Going from OpenStreetMap editing I found this extremely frustrating. Something as simple as adding pathways in a park could require dozens and dozens of individual edits. When multiple connected additions are made, the editing of most attributes is locked out, so you have to go back a few days later to change the path surface from the default value.

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: How many edits do they get?

        >Pretty much every individual action needs to be submitted as an individual edit.

        I've used the Google map editor to do that and it's different - you add the pathway, however many clicks you add, including junctions with other pathways, perhaps even more than one pathway, and then it all gets lumped into a single "change" that is submitted for review.

  3. Jason Hindle Silver badge

    Potential use for criminals? My little experience...

    While trying to find myself back to the hotel, in Namibia a couple of years back, Google Maps tried to send me to a fairly risky township. Fortunately, though I was a a bit lost (that's a talent of mine), a lot didn't add up (for one thing, I was walking, and the directions weren't at all walking distance). Don't get me wrong; the township of Katatura is safe enough for a wander, during the day, but the thought of people being directed there, turn by turn, in the evening, certainly got me thinking*.

    * Armed carjacking is a one of the national sports.

    1. fajensen Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Potential use for criminals? My little experience...

      I think it is only a matter of time, a short time(!), before someone uses Machine Intelligence to calculate better odds for someone coming to a sticky end than the insurance companies have and then use their insider advantage to (automatically?) invest in life insurance policies on the "risky people".

      ... from there it is just a small step to "help matters along" by adding other Machine Intelligence(s) giving dodgy advice -

      "... research shows that an all-cheese diet will lower cholesterol levels significantly .... ",

      "... studies prove that owning a motorbike with more than 250 BHP make men above 50 significantly more attractive to women ... "

      and, of course:

      "... it's a short-cut .... ",

  4. Crazy Operations Guy

    User-edited client

    All the profit and none of the expense of hiring someone! Sure stuff like this happens from time to time, but its much cheaper than paying people for their work.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My street has 3 speed cameras according to TomTom.

    I put 1 of them there. The number changes from 1-5 periodically....

    No pavement on my side of the street, difficult to get a pushchair out when people are doing 60 in a 30 - though 'tis a leafy 'burb - but people still live here!

    Swings and roundabouts.

    Google could have their mapping people even volunteering to spend 15 minutes a day looking at alterations before changing - or a million and one other solutions, including only certain Google serviced customers doing it.... seems fishy, as though perhaps Google simply want to fully own the data set (?)

    1. Metrognome

      Which is why people like me use the CamSam app to precisely report when a camera is no longer there or falsely reported.

      Here in Switzerland the coppers have clued up on this and occasionally spam fake reports. Thanks to the crowds though they never last long.

      And when they set up a camera, it takes on average 5 minutes till it's reported and shared. I, for one, have reported a fair few while they were still being set up.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Searching for "scum" still highlights one British university and one British gay bar. I presume this is the same problem.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge
      Coat

      Google's heuristics engine probably removed the 'S' in order to find the second result...

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Taking the piss

      > "Searching for "scum" still highlights one British university"

      You must mean the mythical 'Scumbag College' (from 'the Young Ones'), I'd guess it would be a 'mythical' university by now...

    3. TeeCee Gold badge
      Happy

      It is, however, the only mapping service I am aware of that correctly identifies where "the shithole" is.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Tromos

    I'll chip in with a contribution...

    ...towards someone building a park in the shape of an android pissing on an apple to get it officially included in the maps.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The new 'improved' Google Maps

    Why have Google gone and changed maps.ggogle co.uk into something hideous and difficult to use?

    They move the zoom slider/buttons to the bottom right when it was top left (along with the little yellow man) and move the satellite/hybrid selector from top right the a box at bottom left. then they stick a huge box at the top left with hieroglyphs.

    Worse, when entering streetview (which I use an awful lot) I get lost as they have removed the mini-map from the bottom right corner which showed where I actually am, and replaced it with a stupid compass icon which no help at all.

    Please Google put it back. An improvement is no improvement at all if the user experience is worse.

    (Obviously they are following the trend set by Apple with its stupid interface alterations.)

    1. Small Furry Animal

      Re: The new 'improved' Google Maps

      'Worse, when entering streetview (which I use an awful lot) I get lost as they have removed the mini-map from the bottom right corner which showed where I actually am, and replaced it with a stupid compass icon which no help at all.'

      Despite most of your complaint being about layout (not difficult to get used to), I have to agree with this point.

      Oh yeah, forgot to tell you that I'm a qualified pilot with over 47 years experience. In the air - no problem. On the ground - aiieee. Cars and Yooman Beans don't have compasses.

      1. BongoJoe

        Re: The new 'improved' Google Maps

        a stupid compass icon which no help at all

        I do agree. I look at that and wonder each time which end is supposed to point North.

        My own Wayfarer compass in my shoes were more useful.

    2. DropBear

      Re: The new 'improved' Google Maps

      You might be interested in this URL: https://maps.google.co.uk/lochp - at least for the time being, it directs you to the old interface...

    3. Amorous Cowherder
      Facepalm

      Re: The new 'improved' Google Maps

      As a photographer I found the picture overlays that people had submitted to be very useful on Google Maps, they promptly pissed that up. The old version supported that great feature for about a year, now it's gone. You have to go to Panoramio to get that feature where a picture of a location is actually overlaid in the location itself!

    4. wdmot

      Re: The new 'improved' Google Maps

      @AC

      I feel the same way. You could try out http://gokml.net/maps. It has a note "This map is only a prototype, to explore the feasiblity of recreating Classic Google Maps" so I don't know if it will be around long. It has a few bugs but works okay in my use. Maybe with feedback and perhaps help, Barry Hunter will improve on it.

      It's not just an issue of layout either. New Google Maps has features that require more processing power and better internet connection to work smoothly, and even then, I much dislike UI features that pop up when your pointer hovers over something -- it makes the experience jolting, especially if I'm not expecting it (nor need said feature). Sluggishness is so noticeable at work with a 1Gbps internet connection on a 2-year-old desktop with a mouse with scroll wheel, but quite noticeable at home with 20Mbps connection and 8-year-old laptop with a trackpad.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In this fair-sized town

    ...where I live, there's a sort of mini-mart newsagent open 24/7. I didn't know the '7' part though; like the big Tesco not too far beyond it is open all day every day except Sunday (of course. Which it was). I thought the newsagent might also want one night off. If so, it being the only one I know is otherwise always open, I didn't want to go and find it shut (obviously). So I went to Google Maps. Figured I'd go to Street View and look at it, see if the opening hours sign was visible (it was).

    So I entered the name of the town and the main thoroughfare in the town centre the shop is in and Google Maps took me to a village a few miles away with a street of the same name. Repeatedly.

    Google Maps is arse.

    1. Allan George Dyer
      Alert

      Re: In this fair-sized town

      Oh, it's OK if you treat with caution...

      It's recommended walking directions from my office to my home include taking a ferry and jumping 14m straight up onto a road bridge when it's in the middle of the harbour.

      1. BongoJoe

        Re: In this fair-sized town

        Modern day commuting just gets tougher and tougher...

  11. Christian Berger

    I think Google misunderstood their product

    They simply created a public forum in map form. A way for people to express their thoughts and feelings... in map form.

    I mean it would be foolish to think people would provide free map data for Google.

  12. Winkypop Silver badge
    Devil

    So

    If a farmer were to cut their grass in a particular androidy-pissing-on-an-apple way it would be OK then.

    Not grass, but similar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marree_Man

  13. Turtle

    Business As Usual

    "Last month, the firm was forced to make some quick edits after a user noticed that someone had created a mythical park in Pakistan in the shape of the Android mascot robot relieving itself over an Apple logo. Another user spotted a similar bit of graffiti proclaiming 'Google review policy is crap,' and the firm has now decided to take action."

    As usual, Google takes action only when Google's own interests are involved.

  14. sopcannon

    If you want to know how bad google maps is for direction try going from one country to another across a body of water like the Atlantic, it used to suggest jet ski across the Atlantic!

    1. BongoJoe
      Trollface

      ...which is perhaps the best use for jet-skis...

  15. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Tip for the Google team...

    Watch out for egg-shaped objects appearing in the vicinity of Easter Island.

    (In other words: How do they distinguish spoof edits from real ones when, historically, programmers successfully hid substantial chunks of code into e.g., Excel in order to laugh at Lotus 1-2-3?)

  16. James Marten
    Unhappy

    This isn't good

    Just hoping that those silly people will not now turn their attention to OpenStreetMap.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about editing the landscape so it matches the map edits?

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      China is already working on it...

  18. TeeCee Gold badge
    Facepalm

    The great thing about "crowdsourcing" is it's free.

    The drawback is that the quality of what you get is exactly what you paid for.....

  19. Joe Harrison

    There are alternatives

    For example https://maps.yandex.ru/

  20. Tom_

    TTC

    In the video games industry we have a metric called TTC that's applicable to any game with user generated content, but especially sensitive where that content is shared. It's used in discussion of how long it will take from a product going live to it being vandalised in a certain way.

    TTC = Time To Cock

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: TTC

      Surely most games have a negative TTC?

  21. Alan Denman

    Wikipedia has a major problem too ........

    but there there is an over abundance of marketing and political marketing piss. There 10s of thousands of the likes of Grant Shapps doing editing.

    The solution for Google would be to let people peer authorise their local area.

    Two persons being asked to authorise every change would stop most havoc.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All but given up trying to help

    I made thousands of edits to Google Maps to improve my local area, which was transformed from pitiful to fairly respectable. Then they came along and messed up our local road names because they were in a foreign language despite English being our language here. They anglicised them with hilarious results, giving our roads names that no-one has ever used, ever!

    I gave up hope for a while as the task of correcting them all would be too much. Recently I decided to tackle it a bit at a time, starting with the more major routes, and had some success, but there are still too many instances of edits simply disappearing without any explanation, or edits go unreviewed for months or longer. We're at the mercy of the reviewers, how few of them there are, and their lack of knowledge.

    Worse, some idiot comes along and makes a silly edit, and the reviewer (paid by each accept?) approves it!

    Judging by the names of the reviewers, they're either in a call center in India or a load of H1B's in the US who have no idea about our local features and road names and ignore the comments from those of us who have actually lived here for decades and have thousands of edits under our belts to show that we care. I still wonder why I bother sometimes......

    And there's the old problem of features (businesses) where they don't know where the location is, so they plonk them in the middle of the area of their best guess. This results in huge 'stacks' of features all in exactly the same place, and you can't browse them all to pick which ones to move to the correct place. You only get to see one page of them and that's it, so if they're all unknowns then there's nothing sensible you can do about it to see the rest of them.

    For all the stories about Google's fussy hiring demands and their reputation as ever-so-clever, they sure make things that are somewhat less than optimal and that stay like that for far too long! (as well as 'improving' things by making them worse!)

    1. ppawel

      Re: All but given up trying to help

      > I made thousands of edits to Google Maps to improve my local are

      Umm... quick question - WHY? Why do you volunteer your time and energy for a corporation when you can edit OpenStreetMap instead and contribute to an open and free dataset?

      I will never understand people...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: All but given up trying to help

        I do both :)

        It's kind of addictive. I love maps, and get my jollies from improving them if I can. It takes all sorts!

      2. BongoJoe
        WTF?

        Re: All but given up trying to help

        I just looked at OpenStreetMap and I am amused to see that someone has put a mountain in my garden*.

        In fact the area where I live appear to be littered with mountains which, thankfully, in the real world aren't there to bother us.

        (* perhaps I ought to get an army of cartographical diggers and lorries and move it back to Powys where it belongs)

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