Google Maps Invites Error Reports

    February 13, 2007

If you see something wrong within Google Maps, you don’t have to “take it” – users can now report problems. The average user may not get a lot out of this feature, however, because it only applies to business listings.

In other words, Google Maps may still erroneously advise people to drive 10 kilometers instead of take 30 steps. But other mistakes, such as incorrect phone numbers or inaccurate hours of operation, can be fixed.

“Occasionally, this information may be incorrect or outdated,” one Google Maps Help page admitted. “Please tell us,” it continued, if “the name, phone number, or address is incorrect,” “business information (e.g. hours or payment accepted), reviews, or web references are incorrect,” or “my home phone number or address appears in this listing.”

Even if these options aren’t revolutionary, they are nice to have; Barry Schwartz (A.K.A. “rustybrick”) attributed their introduction to Mike Blumenthal. “I think Mike’s work in getting Google’s map team to spot it was the reason for the new way to report issues on unverified listings,” Schwartz wrote.

And – although they may seem like a rather minor matter to some – those “issues” have been a big deal at times. For a while, it appeared, even to an expert like Schwartz, that a business’s competitors could “hijack” its Google listings. The problem was later exposed by Blumenthal as “just an overly aggressive algorithm."

Google’s fix for Maps, then, is definitely welcome, but that’s not all the company has been up to. As our Jason Lee Miller reports, Google is also addressing potential malware sites that turn up in its search results.