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article imageGoogle shuts down Map Maker editing tools

By James Walker     Apr 4, 2017 in Technology
Google has officially shut down its Map Maker facility, a tool that allowed anyone to edit the face of Google Maps. Map Maker was supposed to let users correct missing details and fix broken map segments. In practice, it was often abused.
Google previously announced its intention to close Map Maker back in November 2016. It is replacing the feature by putting more emphasis on its Local Guides program, a scheme designed to reward regional power users who improve business details on Google Maps. Local Guides will now also be credited for contributing suggestions to the core map layer.
Map Maker included a fairly robust selection of editing tools that allowed anyone to add and edit places to the map. New road segments could also be created and amended, allowing you to perfect your local area if you noticed a mistake in the automatically generated map. Map Maker encouraged users to review each other's edits in a process designed to reduce the number of fraudulent additions.
The service was far from perfect though. Millions of moderations were made over the years but still some community members managed to circumvent the protections. One of the most high-profile attacks added a message mocking Google's content review policies to a region in Pakistan. It was accompanied by a giant Android figure urinating on an Apple logo. After allowing several similarly dubious edits to be made by the same user, Google was forced to temporarily withdraw Map Maker while it reviewed the incident.
Map Maker has also had extremely positive effects. Users have crowdsourced maps for remote regions where previously there were none. In India, the tool was widely used to build map imagery for local areas that hadn't been included in Google's base mapping scan.
In its post announcing the end of support for Map Maker, Google reflected on the positive impact that Map Maker has had in these communities and others around the world. It noted that users can continue their work by registering as Local Guides and using the new tools available as part of the core Google Maps app.
"Since 2008, the Google Map Maker community has edited and moderated millions of features to improve the Google Maps experience for users worldwide," said Google. "The Google Maps team took notice and, beginning with adding and editing places, started to bring Map Maker capabilities to our desktop and mobile products to make it easier for more users to keep their communities up to date while at home or on the go. These changes have empowered many more users to update the places they care about, view the status of their edits, and moderate other users’ edits."
As of today, the Map Maker tool is no longer available. Its former website now redirects to a new Google support page explaining how to start editing maps from within the Maps app. The tools are only available to Local Guides with a rank of Level 3 or higher, helping to lower the volume of spam submissions to moderate.
More about Google, Google maps, Maps, map maker, google map maker
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