Home Google Deputizes the Crowd to Help Edit Maps

Google Deputizes the Crowd to Help Edit Maps

Google has finally admitted that it can’t keep Google Maps up to date without the crowd’s help. The LatLong Team has just announced a Regional Expert Reviewer program, appointing the best contributors to Google Map Maker as volunteer moderators.

Map Maker, which launched in 2008, allows Maps users to submit edits, but these all had to be reviewed by internal Google teams before being added to the live map. Today’s change shifts some of that burden onto the most dedicated volunteers, indicating that Google no longer wants to handle all that work itself.

It always seemed pretty brave of Google to try to maintain an up-to-date, accurate map of the entire world when their business (advertising) makes a lot more money off of U.S. and European users than, say, users in South Sudan. But Google Maps expanded top-level international support for Maps last month, indicating a bigger commitment to localized content, which means the internal reviewers will need all the help they can get.

The service hasn’t always treated all locations equally. For example, earlier this summer, Google Maps restored the name of Martyr’s Square in Tripoli – renamed Green Square by Moamar Gaddafi’s regime – practically overnight while that revolution was in the news. By contrast, South Sudan, which gained independence from the North months ago, still doesn’t exist on Google Maps. In keeping with these priorities, Google still hasn’t responded to us with comment on why that is.

Google Maps vs. the CIA World Factbook

Meanwhile, it took three years for Map Maker to open in the U.S. Take that as an indication of where Google’s internal editorial priorities were; they didn’t need any help with the U.S. until this year.

Photo credit: Google

Have you ever edited a Google Map? Tell us about it in the comments.

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