About a week ago, Google started allowing users to add/edit/delete items from the map. It’s a neat idea with a lot of great potential, but opens up the possibility of vandalism. Timothy Lee of Techdirt has a great suggestion on how to help address the problem:
…as far as I can tell, there’s no way to see all of the markers in a particular small section of the map (say the block where I live). There also doesn’t appear to be any easy way to automatically monitor changes within a certain radius of a particular location. These features (analogous to Wikipedia’s watchlist feature) would make it a lot easier for public-spirited Google Maps users to keep tabs on map changes and quickly revert vandalism. I’d personally be happy to help police edits in the area around my apartment, but there’s currently no easy way for me to do that.
I think it’s a superb idea. Like him, I’d be happy to watch my local area and check for bad edits, as I’m sure many other people would be happy to do.
They’re quite close to having this feature already, but it’s not quite there yet. If you click on the “See user-created content” link after performing a search, you can see all user-created items for that search phrase in your area. However, there is no way to search for ALL user-created items in an area, or way to narrow those items down by date. I think a simple process would work:
- Let me define an area — a simple bounding box would work.
- Give me an RSS feed for changes/additions/deletions in that area.
- I’d drop that RSS feed into Google Reader and always know about changes to locations near me.
It seems pretty simple. Google, are you listening?