back to article Tired: What3Words. Wired: A clone location-tracking service based on FOUR words – and they are all extremely rude

Some internet clown has satirised current UK controversy over mapping app What3words by making a version that uses four swearwords to name each 3x3 metre block of Great Britain. FourKingMaps, which appears to have been put together using the same basic principles as What3Words, copies the same basic approach as W3W but uses …

  1. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Genius, i'm off to work now to squirting.bareback.camgirl.penis (actually this is my ex employer LOL)

  2. john.jones.name
    Mushroom

    WHat Three Words - commercial algorithim that cant be shared without license payment

    so you want to tie the ability to tell someone where you are to a commercial service?

    Brilliant just brilliant didnt we go through this over a hundred years ago and decided it was not optimal

    yes yes we did...

    dont use what three words, it has errors and is annoying

    scarily enough someone at google mapping tried not to be evil and set open location codes free

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Location_Code

    if you want an Evaluation of Location Encoding Systems https://github.com/google/open-location-code/wiki/Evaluation-of-Location-Encoding-Systems

    1. b0llchit Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: WHat Three Words - commercial algorithim that cant be shared without license payment

      so you want to tie the ability to tell someone where you are to a commercial service?

      Well, the public service is in desperate need to monetize common day activities a bit more to pay for all those services. Therefore, a 1p fee will be owed in taxes for each and every use of a street name, name of village, city or other areal named location and any use of numbered indicators for the purpose of identifying a building on a street.

      That will make us all rich because the public sector will redistribute all this wealth. See, problem solved.

      1. Blazde Silver badge

        Re: WHat Three Words - commercial algorithim that cant be shared without license payment

        It's actually £1.20 to use the number on my house. 1p for the tax and £1.19 maintenance and administration fee to cover upkeep of the door furniture, regular inspections to ensure the number hasn't slipped down and become a 6 rather than a 9, for time taken answering angry emails, and to pay for recovery of unpaid fees.

        1. b0llchit Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: WHat Three Words - commercial algorithim that cant be shared without license payment

          I request to pay my 1p owed in 12 installments. Please provide me with the necessary papers to be filed in triplicate.

        2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: WHat Three Words - commercial algorithim that cant be shared without license payment

          You'll also have to cover the annual service charge to you for use of your postcode - those are artisan made, you know.

        3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: WHat Three Words - commercial algorithim that cant be shared without license payment

          actually £1.20 to use the number on my house. 1p for the tax and £1.19 maintenance and administration fee

          So you're familiar with the Postal Address File?

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: WHat Three Words - commercial algorithim that cant be shared without license payment

          "fee to cover upkeep of the door furniture, regular inspections to ensure the number hasn't slipped down"

          My modern suburban street has lots of front doors with no number displayed. That makes it tricky for deliveries where dead reckoning can lead to the wrong front door. Either the deliverer loses count - or they assume the sequence is ordinal - rather than the conventional odds one side, evens the other.

          On occasion you see a deliverer standing bemused outside #6 and #10 - staring at the blank wall as if #8 is a Harry Potter portal. The number sequence for the front doors goes 2, 4, 6, 10, 12, 8. If you look at the floor plan for the block you can see how someone allocated the numbers in a "logical" hopscotch fashion of room outlines.

      2. phuzz Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: WHat Three Words - commercial algorithim that cant be shared without license payment

        Well, the public service is in desperate need to monetize common day activities a bit more to pay for all those services. Therefore, a 1p fee will be owed in taxes for each and every use of a street name, name of village, city or other areal named location

        Ah, I see you've had to deal with postcode databases before.

    2. Arthur the cat Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: WHat Three Words - commercial algorithim that cant be shared without license payment

      You're only jealous because john.jones.name doesn't appear in W3W.

      More seriously, the Google plus codes are open to everybody and work everywhere, unlike W3W's coding which is language dependent.

      1. MisterHappy

        Re: WHat Three Words - commercial algorithim that cant be shared without license payment

        Why is my cat posting here???

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: WHat Three Words - commercial algorithim that cant be shared without license payment

          Because I want to. Why else would a cat do anything?

      2. Potty Professor
        Boffin

        Re: WHat Three Words - commercial algorithim that cant be shared without license payment

        I am lucky in that my house is the one and only building in the street, so if you use Google Maps' Search Box, three words exactly describe the location. The three words I use are: The house name, The word "drive", and the name of the local town (but not the village). Obviously I am not going to reveal the actual words, in case thousands of visitors show up, but IM me if you want to come and visit. My W3W address is repeated in two wild areas in North America, so I now avoid it.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: WHat Three Words - commercial algorithim that cant be shared without license payment

      A "tourette" version. heh.

      In some places, making a parody version of "What3Words" might be considered "fair use".

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: WHat Three Words - commercial algorithim that cant be shared without license payment

        Even using the same idea would be allowed.

        So long as you use your own algorithm for ordering sets of words and matching their order to numbers you can create w3w.

        I think there is probably prior art for putting English words in an order based perhaps on the order their letters appear in some sort of alphabet ?

        Of course the Caananites might have a patent on the specific order

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My kind of application

    As one who was sad that Viz' long-discontinued Roger's Profanisaurus app stoped working with last year's revision of iOS (out-of-date signing key), this is just the kind of thing I'm in favor of.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: My kind of application

      Some words are just safer if they're nailed down on paper and bound together in a book.

      Besides, the neural nets being put in to phones these days are tender young things, they're just not ready for content like that.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: My kind of application

        Some words are just safer if they're nailed down on paper and bound together in a book.

        That's what Abdul Alhazred thought.

    2. mad_dr

      Re: My kind of application

      Ugh - no kidding. I was gutted when I updated my phone's iOS to get some long-since-forgotten app to work only to discover that it killed my beloved Profanisaurus. I had over 100 entries (oo-er) favourited and had had the app on my phone for longer than I can remember - certainly well before I left the UK in 2013.

      I can't see it in the app store at all so assumed it was because I now live in North America and that it wasn't available in the app store locally. But your post has just about killed off my hopes that there might be some way for me to revive it even if I go to the hassle of switching app store locations back to the UK.

      Worse still, my ailing memory means that I can't even recall most of the entries that had me openly guffawing every time I read them... Time to go old school, get a copy in paperback and break out the highlighter.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I looked up Trump...

    The site still hadn't stopped swearing at me after an hour. Definitely WAY more than a mere four words.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    useless f*cking w*nkers

    Unfortunately those three words do not seem to act as a wildcard to locate every bank HQ in the country........

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: useless f*cking w*nkers

      Of course not, the last word implies they still can produce something.

      1. sev.monster Bronze badge
        Pint

        Re: useless f*cking w*nkers

        Genius. Please take this.

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Not my kind of humor, but

    I salute the technical realization of it.

    As for What3Words, given that we have access to GPS these days, I really don't see the point.

    Then again, it's the Internet. There doesn't have to be a point.

    1. Steve Graham

      Re: Not my kind of humor, but

      The point of W3W is to have a secret, proprietary algorithm and to charge people for using it. Free for end users though, to encourage uptake.

      1. Paul Cooper

        Re: Not my kind of humor, but

        Also something where the failure of a single company will bring the whole thing down.

        Latutude and longitude are two nice, simple numbers that give one's location to whatever precision is required, are completely public domain, and can be obtained from any device that can use What3Words.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Not my kind of humor, but

          Latutude and longitude are two nice, simple numbers that give one's location to whatever precision is required

          So long as both parties understand datums. Here local government maps for logging roads use NAD83 but government services use WGS84. Fortunately everyone understands the differences, just ask your local delivery driver

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Not my kind of humor, but

          One of the problems - explained in a Wikipedia article references somewhere in this thread - is that truncating the coordinates doesn't just affect precision, i.e. imply a bigger area, it affects accuracy because it points to a different location.

    2. katrinab Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Not my kind of humor, but

      If you wanted, for example, to direct someone to El-Reg Towers in London, you could say

      WC1X 8HN

      51.51890°N,0.11156°W

      shovels.zooms.vibrates

      cumrag.manslut.femdom.muppet

      or, The WeWork building next to Rymans and opposite Argos on Greys Inn Road, nearest Tube Station: Chancery Lane. Bus Stop High Holborn C is just outside.

      Most people would pick either the 1st of 5th options.

      I have to say though, "shovels.zooms.vibrates" sounds like something you might find on OnlyFans.

      1. Keith Oborn

        Re: Not my kind of humor, but

        Seriously, the huge advantage of W3W is ease and clarity. If I am stuck in a difficult situation, I may be unable to accurately read out any of the other options - none of which trip off the tongue, and so are much harder to read accurately and *much* harder to remember if you don't have the ability to write them down as they are read out.

        The downsides are that it does have some ambiguities, although as has been pointed out most synonym words will point you to an obviously ridiculous answer. "Hello, I've just got to Little Snodbury, can't find your house". "grumble.toad,pizza". "But that's in Siberia". "Sorry, grumble.toads.pizza".

        And of course it's not great for non-English speakers, but making a multi-language version should not be as great an effort. Just do a literal translation of all words, and where there isn't one, substitute.

        I have used it exactly once to find a spot where one of our gliders had landed out. It took me to the nose of the aircraft, which was impressive.

    3. John Sager

      Internet pointlessness

      Swatch's Internet Time has to be up there in that list. Also, Tony Blair late of this parish had a similar idea about GMT when he was trying to do his day job. I was peripherally involved in that as a supposed NTP guru and kept asking what the USP was, and why NPL didn't have a NTP server tied to their version of UTC. Blair's grand idea died like a lot of his others (not enough I hear you shout) but NPL did eventually host a NTP server, so I suppose it had a minor effect.

    4. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Not my kind of humor, but

      I believe the claim of W3W is that GPS coordinates get mishandled too much. One wrong numeral and you can be ten or a hundred miles out... or whichever. But with the magic words... get wine rung and you're a thousand miles out. But then you're reasonably likely to notice. Of course, words being confused with other words is just what you want it not to do, but that seems to me fixable... and without initially cancelling the original vocabulary.

      As for Four Words, many of these are more than one word, including one such that I rather regret looking up, and it's news to me if "Hitler" is a swear word. Maybe it has a meaning I didn't consider, perhaps related to the Albert Hall. But you wouldn't say "Hitler" if someone had that misfortune, you want it to mean a nasty bossy person.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Not my kind of humor, but

        The advantage of lat/long is just a simple number instead of some silly words. That's why we are going to replace web site names with their IP6 address

        1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Not my kind of humor, but

          "their IP6 address" ??? Why would you want an address just outside Ipswich?

          1. John H Woods Silver badge

            Re: Not my kind of humor, but

            IP Switch?

      2. the Jim bloke Silver badge

        Re: Not my kind of humor, but

        get wine rung and you're a thousand miles out.

        Is this something that has been outsourced to south east asia? So probably closer to home for the crew.

        If its available for apple things - any errors will be the result of you saying it wrong...

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Not my kind of humor, but

        The homophones wouldn't matter so much if they were located together. For instance if some enchanted evening was next to sum enchanted evening it would only be a few metres astray. But even if that were fixed the proprietary nature and single point of failure would remain a problem.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Not my kind of humor, but

      "As for What3Words, given that we have access to GPS these days, I really don't see the point."

      Exactly. Anyone who is lost or in dire need of emergency service who can access What3Words can also access proper location data. I've even heard What3Word defended as being "more accurate" than GPS because apparently GPS signals can be poor in some areas. I guess they can't manage to think where What3Words gets its location data from.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not my kind of humor, but

        "Exactly. Anyone who is lost or in dire need of emergency service who can access What3Words can also access proper location data."

        Not always, when I had a first gen Kobo reader it had WWW access but no GPS.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not my kind of humor, but

          At which point, W3W wouldn't be able to locate you...

    6. AlanB

      Re: Not my kind of humor, but

      GPS tells you where you are, but it doesn't by itself make it easy to tell someone else where you are, in a memorable way, over a poor phone connection.

      https://github.com/google/open-location-code/wiki/Evaluation-of-Location-Encoding-Systems#latitude-and-longitude

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Not my kind of humor, but

        Depends upon your hardware. I had an Android phone with an emergency mode. Do some whizzy thing like press the power button a bunch of times and it would:

        * Turn on GPS, await a reasonable fix, then text the coordinates to everybody in your list of emergency numbers.

        * Pop up a notification telling you the location.

        * Start calling your emergency numbers until somebody answered.

        * It may or may not have then tried calling 112 if nobody answered. I think that was an option, but for obvious reasons I never tried it.

        Really, if we can make phones that can tell us what three words to use, we could make them do something like the above so if you're in a car crash and half your face is smashed in and you're upside down, you don't need to give a toss about any three words other than "fucking help me!".

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Not my kind of humor, but

          Well, they're putting that in cars. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECall also U.S., Russia, etc.

          I think there's also phone apps so that if the phone is moving at car speed then abruptly stops, then it reports an accident.

  7. Nifty Silver badge
    Coat

    I've got nothing against homophones.

    1. Paul Herber Silver badge

      Homophones has got nothing against you either. Can't say the same about other Greek philosophers though.

    2. Twanky Silver badge
      Go

      Well I should hope not!

      At least, not without asking first.

    3. JDPower666

      Some of my best words are homophones

    4. Dinanziame Silver badge
      Angel

      What? No, you're an homophone!

  8. Sam Therapy
    Happy

    Worth checking just for the different names given at the area of South Yorkshire Police HQ in Rotherham.

  9. Deimos

    Most annoying advert EVER

    Every time I see that bloody “what 3 words”, I shout loudly “ask your husband”. Those with the opposite distribution of the Navigator gene should substitute Wife instead. It also works with 4 words but causes me to exceed my swearing per day limit. I got legally restricted on my swearing after setting Doncaster on fire while watching a downing st. COVID briefing.

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: Most annoying advert EVER

      It can get worse as my youngest’s husband found out. You see the youngest is cross lateral, has no innate sense of left and right. Sample of a conversation from an attempt to navigate somewhere with my daughter navigating: Not that left, the other one.

      When you don’t have Left and Right you end up with Left and the Other Left.

      She’s in Bioinformatics with a PhD to boot. Just don’t ask her for directions.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: She’s in Bioinformatics with a PhD to boot

        Does she come up with completely meaningless results when searching for stuff in a database?

        1. Ken G
          Paris Hilton

          Re: She’s in Bioinformatics with a PhD to boot

          Don't we all?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Most annoying advert EVER

        Strangely enough, I'm sure that she would have no problem telling you on which sides the Esc and Enter keys are on her keyboard...?

      3. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Most annoying advert EVER

        When you don’t have Left and Right you end up with Left and the Other Left.

        No, Left, Other Left, Right and Other Right. We amphilaterals have twice as many directions as boring people and get to see far more of the country.

        1. Chris Evans

          amphilaterals ?

          Did you mean ambilaterals

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: amphilaterals ?

            Quite right. Amphilateral would be a Graeco-Roman hybrid.

  10. DJV Silver badge

    Searching for a single swear word results in places where all four words are the same - though I'm not sure that spunk.spunk.spunk.spunk is actually worse sounding than the place it's located at: Huish Cleeve. There are also a lot of boobs in Semington.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      And twats abound in Westminster.

  11. tiggity Silver badge

    a bit late to the show in featuring this site

    This was publicised on he b3ta newsletter quite a while ago - shame on el reg if you don't sub to that

    1. Alan J. Wylie

      Re: a bit late to the show in featuring this site

      Interesting. The bastard offspring of NTK and Viz

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: a bit late to the show in featuring this site

        Awww. I got really excited when I saw your link, and hope rose in me that NTK had resumed publication and was no longer on hiatus.

        Nope... last instalment still from 2007. Bah.

  12. Alan J. Wylie

    sadly FourKingMaps doesn't yet have a linking function so you'll have to visit it by copy and pasting.

    This works

    https://www.fourkingmaps.co.uk/?fkm=tart.hardcore.explosivediarrhea.poontang

  13. Alan J. Wylie

    Shame it's not 5 words

    Then we could have pee.po.belly.bum.drawers

  14. Dizzy Dwarf

    well.fuck.me.sideways

    well.fuck.me.sideways

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: well.fuck.me.sideways

      A chap I knew at Uni always used Fuck.My.Old.Boots as a sort of universal phrase, password, location, instruction, you name it.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well fuck shit suck ass. The US isn't mapped.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Nor will it be, until the American populace learns what bollocks and cockwomble mean.

      1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        After 45

        The US is in the process of renovating its cursing vocabulary to cover extraordinary new levels of zeal, vengeance, and pride in masses of people whom are underrepresented by existing swear words.

      2. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

        Oh, it's much more entertaining if they don't understand.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Or learn to differentiate between an arse and a donkey.

  16. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Synergasmic

    This should be added to FOAAS so you can tell someone what to do and where to do it.

  17. David 132 Silver badge
    Happy

    Father Jack

    So was Father Jack actually trying to tell everyone where his vast wealth was hidden?

    Arse.Feck.Drink.Gobshite?

    Edit: Bah, no such location. However, gobshite.gobshite.gobshite.gobshite and feck.feck.feck.feck bookend the southern and northern coasts of Eire respectively, which indicates that someone at FKM is at least partially a Father Jack fan!

    1. Lil Endian
      Pint

      Re: Father Jack

      They could've gone with Feck Arse Industries.

      However, gobshite.gobshite.gobshite.gobshite and feck.feck.feck.feck bookend the southern and northern coasts of Eire respectively...

      That's awesome :D

      Here Jack, for you --->

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Father Jack

      You've just triggered the subprocess that had to remind the English that the name of Ireland, in English, is Ireland. The name of Ireland in Irish in Éire but you're not writing in Irish.

      You are talking about coast of "burden". Please don't or I will have to call you by your unique location.

  18. Efer Brick

    Sofa King good

    1. Wallsy

      Suffolk and brilliant

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    uk.gov.petition?

    "Review how emergency services handle location data from the public.

    Laws already exist on obtaining location data at handsets, and in telcos, but not on how emergency services handle location data provided verbally by the public. This is inconsistent, with some handling ordnance survey grid ref, latitude/longitude, and other formats. Some are not handled at all."

    See https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/594011

    found via

    https://www.revk.uk/2021/08/review-how-emergency-services-handle.html

    which in turn references

    http://w3w.me.ss/

    and so Forth.

  20. TeeCee Gold badge
    Black Helicopters

    Oddly..

    fuck.shit.bollocks.arse is right out in the Atlantic, on the very edge of territorial waters.

    I'm not sure what that means, if anything.

    1. nowster

      Re: Oddly..

      I'm sure it means absolutely Rockall.

      1. dajames
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Oddly..

        I'm sure it means absolutely Rockall.

        Well done! (See icon.)

    2. Lil Endian

      Re: Oddly..

      fuck.shit.bollocks.arse is right out in the Atlantic

      It's the last known location of West Craggy Island!

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: Oddly..

        …well, the Western side of Craggy Island at least, which drifted off in that big storm!

  21. Gavin Jamie

    Plenty of rude(ish) words in the original

    For the young of mind I would recommend What 3 Rude Words which seeks out plenty of rude sounding locations. https://twitter.com/what3rudewords

  22. Mike 16 Silver badge

    non-uniform Homonym collisions

    I would expect pairs that are homonyms in one location may not be in others. Could be interesting when a tourist tries to give their location to a local at emergency services.

    Shades of the voice-controlled elevator in Scotland.

  23. Beornfrith

    I couldn't help but smile a little when I saw 'piersmorgan' is one such bad word.

    1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge
  24. John H Woods Silver badge

    Reg Fail

    "even though there are a number of examples of it not working as well as established technologies such as Ordnance Survey or GPS coordinates."

    I really didn't expect El Reg, of all organs, to quote that article with nary a raised eyebrow. Here are those examples:

    jump.legend.warblers which was in Vietnam

    duties.factory.person was located in China

    dignitary.fake.view turned out to be in India

    refuse.housework.housebound was in Australia

    middle.plugged.nourished was in the US

    demand.heave.surprise was actually in Canada

    flesh.unzip.whirlwind was in Russia

    Now, what I deduce from this is that Mark Lewis, provider of these examples and head of ICT at Mountain Rescue England and Wales is being, hopefully uncharacteristically, a fucking moron. Every single example here is of W3W working as advertised* --- get it wrong and the implicit checksum "is it in remotely the right place" doesn't match. Did he dispatch a fucking crew on the Mountain Rescue Heli and after several hours they said, oh, hold on, why are we going to Vietnam? Of course not. Mangle a number (which people, in my experience, do more often than they mangle words) in a grid reference and you can easily be, depending on the decimal position of the error, between 100s of metres and 10s of kms out. This is the danger zone for search and rescue: it's only if you mangle the first few digits that it would be obvious numerical coords were wrong. W3W is explicitly designed to give you an impossibly distant location if you cock it up, whichever of the three words you bork, and that is precisely what these examples show!

    Andrew TIerney, also referenced in that abysmal BBC report (which - did I say? - I'd have expected El Reg to approach in somewhat more sceptical mindset) has at least got the right idea but is also, IMNSHO, really pushing his luck in terms of not coming across as a numpty.

    "for example, circle.goal.leader and circle.goals.leader are less than 1.2 miles (2km) apart along the River Thames."

    This is apparently the best example he has got and 2km is well in the danger zone, so obviously a bit of a W3W failure. But hold on, one of these is in the fucking river! So if, as an emergency operator, I looked up the location, I'm pretty sure I could tell, depending on the nature of the emergency, if I'd got the wrong one.

    So, I've been a bit rude about two people, apologies. I should be clear --- I'm not casting aspersions on their general character. They might be very sensible people who are just being a bit spectacularly dim at the moment. We've all done it, me more than most (my first attempt at posting this rant somehow saw it on the Starliner article!). But the person who really needs to hang their head in shame here is the El Reg journo who just parsed and absorbed the BBC article without remembering that almost any sci/tech story in the BBC is wrong, almost by definition.

    * I, too, have concerns about its proprietary nature, etc., but let's just deal with their claims for the moment.

    1. Corinth

      Re: Reg Fail w3w fail

      The problem sometimes is that the 999 operator is relaying the w3w code to the emrgency service that will be responding.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: Reg Fail w3w fail

        "The problem sometimes is that the 999 operator is relaying the w3w code to the emergency service that will be responding."

        This is a problem with lack of caller - operator - service join-up, not with W3W. Chinese whispers doesn't work well with grid references, as they don't have checksums. W3W does at least have an implicit checksum as small changes in the reference nearly always yield locations that are contextually impossible. Every single one of the W3W cases given as an example of "when it is confusing" is actually an example of when it is working, as not a single one was a valid location for a call to UK emergency services.

        I do think W3W missed a trick concentrating on simple words that are perhaps more easily distinguished in text rather than in speech over a noisy channel (trailing 's' is a case in point - maybe they should have generally avoided plurals). However, where a borked W3W address is in the wrong continent that is simply achieving its stated aim: you know the reference is wrong before you even start out, and hopefully within seconds of receiving it, even if you have no internet connection.

        In contrast, where there's an error in the first three decimal places of degrees longitude or latitude, you've got a target which is hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of metres away from where you should be: and you won't realise you have the wrong location until you get there (and, perhaps, depending on the terrain, not even until some time after you've arrived).

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They missed one

    I tried to locate "fuckshitpisswank" as made famous by "This Life" but sadly no result.

  26. mark4155

    999... What is your location?

    About 6 months ago there was a slight to do at the rear of my property. Nothing major in Manchester, knives flashing and young guy stabbed. Thankfully not fatal.

    As a dutiful citizen I called 999 on my mobile. Was put in a queue by GM Police (as is their shitty service levels), 2 minutes later I explained we needed Police and Ambulance.

    Control lady asked for postcode (I know the postcode) - she couldn't find it.

    I went on to give the road and number of the house of the incident.... nope still no luck. Eventually said to Police one sec, "What 3 Words location is" and told her. "Fuck Andy Burnham" - or a similar phrase.

    Her reply was "What is What 3 Words?" - I gave in and rang the non-emergency number, more efficient, better location tracing and music on hold.

    Police, fire ambulance quickly despatched and young guy looked after.

    No wonder GMP are under "Special Measures" AKA Naughty Corner.

    Andy Burnham fuck off back down to London.

    Rant over....

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: 999... What is your location?

      My son called in an emergency "at the junction of the Wolves stadium and the ASDA" and they said they "needed a postcode" - he replied "I'm sorry I don't have the postcode". When they said "we can't dispatch an ambulance without a postcode" he replied "you don't need a fucking postcode, anybody in the world can nail that description to a single point on the globe. If you are refusing to dispatch an ambulance, please just identify yourself and confirm the official reason is 'caller does not know postcode'"

      The ambulance was duly dispatched, which was fortunate because the 'fainting' turned out to be a cardiac arrest.

  27. wolfetone Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Works really well

    I tried to find out what co-ordinates it'd give me for my neighbour who's an absolute weapon.

    The four words it gave me, every word hit the spot. Almost Haiku like. It's like it knew who lived there with those words describing them.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Every day's a school day..

    Before looking at these maps I had never heard of the soggy biscuit game.

    Now it is an image I cannot erase.

    I need a shower.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Every day's a school day..

      Bukk, I mean but, not that sort of shower… >:->

  29. FlippingGerman

    Bloody stupid idea anyway

    Their adverts are inane, "um I'm in a forest, I don't know where I am". If your phone knows where you are THEN USE BLOODY GOOGLE MAPS! Either get coordinates (heard of those?) or send someone a fucking Google link, it's brilliant, you can then go straight to directions!

    Fuckers. Stupid solution for a solved problem for stupid people.

  30. Timbo Bronze badge

    and look at Number 10 (NSFC)

    Our esteemed leader at Number 10 is here:

    https://www.fourkingmaps.co.uk/?fkm=fuckoff.cunt.dickweed.twat

    If that doesn't work, this might:

    https://www.fourkingmaps.co.uk/?fkm=poop.ejaculate.cowpat.trollop

    (Hope this gets through the el reg spambot !!)

  31. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Coat

    Veni, vidi, vici

    Renowned Latin scholar and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson has decreed that in his drive to "level up" Britain (hey, don't forget NI), what the plebs need is some classical Latin education - The government will be inviting carefully chosen select organisations to build and operate a "Latin" location identification service.

    In keeping with government policy, and well-proven with the Covid slogans, the system will be based on 3-word combinations.

    The phrase "Veni, vidi, vici" will be reserved for No. 10 Downing St.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Veni, vidi, vici

      I've already registered "Cacata inutilia bastardis" for Chequers.

      1. Swarthy Silver badge

        Re: Veni, vidi, vici

        What would you recommend for "Illegitimi non carborundum"?

  32. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Irrelevant re-invention

    All these ignore that we've already got a system that divides the UK up into 1m x 1m squares, with a calculated algorithm, that incrementally changes so somewhere nearby has a reference that's also "nearby" in the reference system, that scales in and out within the reference, that are marked on all maps that qualify as maps, and doesn't require external look-up to a private database.

    Yours,

    NZ9011

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: Irrelevant re-invention

      OS coordinates are two letters followed by 4 to 10 digits. An error in the first letter (which is S, T, H, N or very rarely O) will be in the wrong 500km x 500km area of the country; an error in the second (any letter except I) will put you in the wrong 100km x 100km subsquare. In the rare case a 10 digit O/S reference is supplied (to a 1m x 1m square) errors in the 5th or 10th digits will yield a result close enough for most purposes, though perhaps not for parcel deliveries. On the other hand, small errors in the first or (n/2+1)th digit or large errors in the other digits will give you a reference that is hundreds to tens of thousands of metres wrong: easily enough to put you in the wrong place but not far enough out to be obviously wrong before you set off.

      This is a* claimed, and - AFAICS - so far not disproved, strength of W3W, that most small errors in reference give (contextually) wildly improbably locations and you are far more likely to know on receipt of the reference (and even if you are offline) that an error has been made.

      This is not the case with OS refs, or Lat / Long, either, where errors in the 1st to 3rd decimal places of degrees have similar 'bad but not mad' results. If I were a helicopter pilot looking for, e.g., an injured walker, I'm pretty sure that fruitlessly looking a few km away from my target, mistakenly fairly certain that I were in the right place, would be vastly less preferable to being in a position to say "that reference is in Vietnam, so I think unless you can get us the correct reference, we'll fly round and use the old Mk I eyeball"

      * other claims that 3 arbitrary words are easier to remember, or easier to communicate, may well be regarded with more scepticism.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Somebody let this chap know

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-58229967

    If any motoring odyssey deserves to be tracked using Fourkingmaps, it's this one.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "(look, we don't make these up, the algorithm does it)"

    At that point in the article I needed to double-check I wasn't reading the latest BOFH.

  35. Gusbert
    Big Brother

    Extremes of map

    Here are the most NSEW squares on the map:

    NW: pussyfucker.arsepiece.knob.fartlozenge (Altantic)

    NE: blumpkin.creampie.spawncamper.lotion (North Sea)

    SW: abortion.abortion.abortion.abortion (Atlantic)

    SE: fecker.clusterfuck.dope.condom (Bresels, France)

  36. To Mars in Man Bras!
    Facepalm

    An Old 'Un...

    But still worth linking to, any time that W3W idiocy is mentioned:

    https://stiobhart.net/2016-01-15-stupidest-idea-ever/

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missed an example...

    What's the code for El Reg headquarters?

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