Happy trails to you
This week, without fanfare, Google quietly retired Map Maker, an interactive feature that crowdsourced the task of editing and updating Google Maps. The announcement was made on Tuesday through Google’s product forums, and so far, the internet has barely noticed.
Map Maker started in 2008, allowing users to edit and update addresses, businesses, roads, paths, natural features, the outlines of large buildings, and more. Users could edit via desktop or mobile, and could moderate one another’s edits. The tool was particularly useful for real estate agents. I’ve used it once myself. After I discovered my home address was listed as a business, I was able to correct the mistake.
According to the Map Maker team via the product forum, “Today, we want to let you know that Google Map Maker features will officially graduate and be integrated directly into Google Maps in March 2017 when we’ll retire the standalone Map Maker product.”
Consolidating Map Maker’s features into Google Maps will streamline their editing and moderating processes, “speeding up the time for an edit to get published.” Particularly enthusiastic map editors are encouraged to join Google’s Local Guides program, which rewards users with invitations to events, data storage, and early access to new products.It's likely that the company saw a need to consolidate their moderation efforts after a series of offensive and mischievous map edits in 2015. Vandals had edited maps so that searching for racial slurs would bring up the address for the White House.Click To Tweet
The company temporarily shut down Map Maker to address the problem, but reopened it later that year. With all edits happening through Google Maps and Google Search, the company should be able to keep shenanigans to a minimum.
Hold off on that BFF necklace
The change is also another reminder to Google users not to get too attached to any of their products. The company seems to have a habit of shuttering popular features (Reader, Wave, and so forth).
Nonetheless, it looks like most of the functions from Map Maker will still be available through Google Maps. Says the Map Maker team, “We’ve greatly appreciated your contributions to Google Maps over the years and hope you will continue to update the world around you.”