Sunday, July 23, 2006

Jumping to conclusions

Since I’ve started working for AOL, I seem to be the default person for anyone to ask about computer questions. Normally the questions center around things that I have no control over or I lack the knowledge to fix. This inquiry I hope was different in that I could actually help.

(Please note that anyone related to me may continue to seek technical help.)

My future sister-in-law mentioned that the address mapping on was incorrect and the church was mapping a few blocks away from the real location. I sat down and started my own investigation. uses Mapquest to power their maps and driving directions. After examining the parameters in the string sent to Mapquest, it seemed the site was using the name plus the address but defaulting to the name in the match. I went directly to Mapquest and searched and found that the church was showing 436 as the street number versus 486 as listed on the church’s own website. My guess is some OCR software misread the 8.

What do I do now? isn’t flexible enough to force the address match versus the name match. Maybe I could submit an error ticket?

On Mapquest it was two clicks away to get to a page where I could report the error. I gave all the details I could possibly give including a link to the actual church website with the real address.

Next I visited Google Maps to see if they had a similar problem. They do, it seems as if they use the same underlying data source. Three clicks to submit the error and that is being generous because it wasn’t completely clear from the menu title that I was going the right way. I submitted a similar error ticket as I did with Mapquest.

The race is on now. I will be checking both on a regular basis to see how quickly this error is fixed. I’m rooting for Mapquest since they are part of the AOL family, but we’ll have to let the results show the real winner. Expect a weekly update.

Here are the two links if you’d like to check yourself:


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