Google Maps Prank Leads To Temporary Shutdown Of Map Maker Program

Google / Tech

Remember that Google Maps prank we told you about a couple weeks ago? The one with the Android bot peeing on the Apple logo? As suspected, and while Google hasn’t outright specified this particular incident by name, it looks like it was the work of a member of the Map Maker community.

As some of you know already, we have been experiencing escalated attacks to spam Google Maps over the past few months. The most recent incident was particularly troubling and unfortunate – a strong user in our community chose to go and create a large scale prank on the Map.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Map Maker program, it allows anyone to make edits to Google Maps. Google has a pretty strict peer review and approval process in place for newer users, but as you edit more and have those edits accepted, you slowly gain more leeway and can make and publish edits without having to go through the review process. I’ve been a member for quite some time and with over 4200 edits and 1100 reviews of other user edits, there’s quite a few things I can edit and it will auto-publish and go live almost immediately on Google Maps. There’s a pretty big level of trust on the part of Google allowing users to make live changes to roads, highways, moving locations, and other various map edits.

Because of this latest “large scale prank”, Google initially removed the auto-edit functionality and required that all edits go through a manual review process. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of edits that go through Map Maker on a daily basis and unfortunately this is causing a huge backlog for Google.

As you can imagine, turning automated and user moderation off has the direct implication of very large backlogs of edits requiring manual review. This in turn means your edits will take a long time to get published.

Given the current state of the system, we have come to the conclusion that it is not fair to any of our users to let them continue to spend time editing. Every edit you make is essentially going to a backlog that is growing very fast. We believe that it is more fair to only say that if we do not have the capacity to review edits at roughly the rate they come in, we have to take a pause.

As a result, Google has been analyzing and making changes to their review process but due to the backlog of edits needing approval will be temporarily disabling editing starting next Tuesday.

We have hence decided to temporarily disable editing across all countries starting Tuesday, May 12, 2015, till we have our moderation system back in action. This will be a temporary situation and one that we hope to come out of as soon as possible.

Hopefully this isn’t a long shutdown and trusted Map Maker users will be able to continue contributing to helping make Google Maps a better product.

Let us know what you think of Google’s decision to temporarily shut down Map Maker edits in the comments below, or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

  Source: Google Map Maker Forum
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