Ask MetaFilter Travel Locations September 7, 2011 8:27 AM   Subscribe

Today we're introducing a new way to find travel questions at Ask MetaFilter: Travel Locations.

Here's how it works: when someone asks a new question in the Travel & Transportation category, we ask for a location (screenshot). They type in "Berkeley, CA" (or wherever) and post their question as usual.

We take that text and try to turn it into a real world location using the Google Geocoding API. If it works, great, we have a match with a real location. If it doesn't work, that's ok, the question just won't have a location associated with it. We ask for a single geographic location. If a question is about multiple locations it probably isn't quite right for this particular feature. If all locations are in a single country, it might make sense to jump out to that level and use "China" or "United States".

In this case, "Berkeley, CA" maps easily to a single real spot so in addition to all the usual spaces, the question ends up on the new Questions About Berkeley, CA page. At the top of that page is a breadcrumb trail (screenshot) that leads back to the Travel & Transportation category page.

On the main thread page for the question, there's also new link in the byline (screenshot) that leads to the location page.

We have some more features planned to help surface location information, but we're starting out slow so we can get a feel for how it will work. We want this feature to be unobtrusive during this introduction. We felt like the Travel & Transportation category was the first best choice for location data but we're treating it as a pilot feature there. If it works well we'll move it to the other categories.

I'd like to give a special thanks to our intern Dominic. Allen who went through 12,000+ questions in the Travel & Transportation category and added a location where possible. Great work, Dom!

There are bugs—especially with geocoding. If you type in something along the lines of "asdfasdf" as a Travel Location, Google will do its best to find a match. Sometimes it's not the match you intended. If you stick to cities, states, and countries it works pretty well. We'll be tuning as we go so you can post here or use the Contact Form if you run into problems.
posted by pb to Feature Requests at 8:27 AM (114 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

Cool feature idea.

I was wondering how DC would appear, not being in a state, and accidentally found this bug. Looks like a s/travel/travel-transportation/ thing.
posted by DU at 8:33 AM on September 7, 2011


Wow, this is great. Thanks you all for making this happen, and special thanks to Dom!
posted by alms at 8:33 AM on September 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Three cheers for the pintern! Thanks, Dom. I am excited to see this feature become useful in collocating questions about travel stuff moving forward. Let us know if you have questions or concerns. Right now the location information just stays with the question, so there's no linking to users+location in any other way other than what is already available (and optional) on the profile pages.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:34 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Looks great!

I hate to say this, but perhaps there are questions that are not in the "travel and transportation" category that are about specific locations. For example, if I were moving to Oakland, CA I might be interested in seeing this question about neighborhoods, which is in the "home and garden" category.

So maybe it would make sense to have all questions be able to be tagged with a single geographic location. Although most of them probably wouldn't be tagged - if I ask a question about a relationship, nobody cares where I live.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:34 AM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Looks great! Probably a dumb question but where do I click if I want to see questions about a particular place? I can't seem to find any kind of entry point to this apart from the link in this post.
posted by sveskemus at 8:37 AM on September 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is just like getting a little present by your plate at the breakfast table when it's not even your birthday.
Sweet.
Madcaptenor: It sounds like they will be extending it eventually.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:39 AM on September 7, 2011


I hate to say this, but perhaps there are questions that are not in the "travel and transportation" category that are about specific locations.

Absolutely. We are starting here. We'll think about larger scale ways to roll this out in the rest of AskMe after working out bugs and interface stuff.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:40 AM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks DU, fixed that up.

Yep, madcaptenor, we're definitely considering moving this to all categories. We want to watch and see how it works for a while before we move it to all categories though.

Not a dumb question sveskemus, we don't have great entry points right now. We'll have a "Find questions by location" search form later today. In the meantime, you can use the standard site search to find a question about a particular location and use the link in the thread.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:41 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a great feature. We use Ask for planning vacations and trips all the time.

My special ponies for this new herd:

If all locations are in a single country, it might make sense to jump out to that level and use "China" or "United States".

Even intra- and international regions: Scotland or Eastern Europe, for example. It would also be nice for "Edinborough" questions to appear in a search for "Scotland", and "Scotland" to appear in "UK" and "Europe" searches.
posted by bonehead at 8:43 AM on September 7, 2011


Finally an end to the Portland OR / Portland ME kerfuffle!
posted by misterbrandt at 8:43 AM on September 7, 2011


I like this. Good back-tagging, Dom! You're an all-star now. That was no small feat.
posted by cashman at 8:46 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cool! Thanks!
posted by rmd1023 at 8:46 AM on September 7, 2011


Even intra- and international regions...

Google doesn't handle that well so we don't handle it well. We can think about building our own layer on top that will handle that eventually, but for now our largest geographic unit is a country.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:46 AM on September 7, 2011


I suppose I should actually read the whole post before saying things.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:49 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I shot a man in asdfasdf. Just to watch him aaauuugggghhhhh....
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:52 AM on September 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


Thanks for this!

FWIW The RSS is 404'ing (obligatory example).
posted by togdon at 8:53 AM on September 7, 2011


Thanks togdon, fixed.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:54 AM on September 7, 2011


Is "New York, NY" going to comprise the five boroughs or will it be split up like in IRL?
posted by griphus at 8:59 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Also: good job, Dom!)
posted by griphus at 8:59 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I shot a man in asdfasdf. Just to watch him aaauuugggghhhhh....

asdfasdf, Nevada? Or asdfasdf, Maine?
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:02 AM on September 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


AWESOME!
posted by jillithd at 9:03 AM on September 7, 2011


Is "New York, NY" going to comprise the five boroughs or will it be split up like in IRL?

It uses the same system as IRL.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:04 AM on September 7, 2011


I take that back. We moved completely to Google for geocoding locations (we were using Yahoo at IRL for a while) so it looks like New York, NY is the city if you type in "Brooklyn, NY" for example. Yahoo had them as separate cities.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:06 AM on September 7, 2011


It would be neat if going up the breadcrumb trail provided some way to list all the "child" pages. Like if you went from LA to the California page, there would be some way to get back to the LA page, or to the San Diego page.

(And that is not a fun intern job!)
posted by smackfu at 9:08 AM on September 7, 2011


Wow! Nice work Dom!! :)
posted by zarq at 9:23 AM on September 7, 2011


Wow, thanks for this -- special shoutout to Dom! This is really great work.
posted by scody at 9:24 AM on September 7, 2011


Why do questions about Lake Champlain keep sending me to Randolph, VT?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:26 AM on September 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Because this little lake monster needs scotch.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:29 AM on September 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


What kind?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:37 AM on September 7, 2011


This is great! I asked a travel question yesterday & was suprised at the extra field to fill out - now I know what it was for. WTG, Dominic & pb!
posted by pointystick at 9:46 AM on September 7, 2011


Cool. I see there are also RSS feeds for locations. Nice work!
posted by exogenous at 10:01 AM on September 7, 2011


Is that internship a paid position?
posted by Meatbomb at 10:20 AM on September 7, 2011


Hey I have a pony request to get all travel & transportation tagged to attempt via Google Geocoding API to identify a realworld location thanks in advance.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:23 AM on September 7, 2011


Oh hot shit you guys are fast!
posted by shakespeherian at 10:23 AM on September 7, 2011


Is that internship a paid position?

Yes, that's why we call him a pintern.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:38 AM on September 7, 2011


Nifty! Thanks, guys!
posted by deborah at 10:48 AM on September 7, 2011


This is really fantastic - thank you!
posted by Miko at 10:56 AM on September 7, 2011


Yes, if there's more travel backtagging to do I'm happy to help.
posted by Miko at 10:57 AM on September 7, 2011


Dom has a unique essay to write: "How I spent my summer vacation".
posted by Cranberry at 11:03 AM on September 7, 2011


Pass the intern a cigar...
posted by infini at 11:06 AM on September 7, 2011


Very cool.

Not to toot my own horn, but I recently worked on a very similar thing for Etsy profiles. We moved from google api to a database of city locations. You can see it in action if you edit your profile on said website. If you want to compare notes, I'm happy to discuss it.
posted by Phredward at 11:27 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


went through 12,000+ questions in the Travel & Transportation category and added a location where possible.

Out of curiosity, how on earth did he do this? Assuming an 8 hour day and that he's occasionally unchained from the dank cage taking weekends off, he'd have to have been checking 1.5 questions a minute for a whole month. Without lunch, toilet breaks or hours lost to flash games.

Dom - If you want out, try to send us a signal somehow. We can smuggle you out, to freedom!

Or possibly there was some scripting involved. In which case, on what criteria were you filtering questions, and what fun bugs should we be looking for?
posted by metaBugs at 11:40 AM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dom is actually Paphnuty.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:44 AM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


shakespeherian: "Dom is actually Paphnuty."

Son of Minya. He did all that work single-handedly.
posted by zarq at 12:03 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very cool!

Seems like questions about New England are mapping to North Dakota, presumably because of the existence of New England, ND.
posted by yarrow at 12:14 PM on September 7, 2011


Thanks yarrow, we can't do regions like "New England" so we'll get that cleaned up.
posted by pb (staff) at 12:36 PM on September 7, 2011


I thought we'd agreed that pintern is an abomination of a word and that we wouldn't be using it any more, ever. Well, not so much as agreed, but something like it. Actually not even something like it LOOK I just don't like that word, ok? And as a (non)paying member of this community, I deserve at least a good humoring, dammit, and if not a humoring than maybe we could finally get this restraining order lifted? I promise my gifts will only get cuter and more endearing.

Do you guys just ignore the dozens (ok, fine, hundreds) of faxes I send the Mefi HQ every day or what?
posted by item at 12:59 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just send one black fax and get it over with. HQ gets one from me every time they delete one of my 15-second-long SLYT FPPs.
posted by griphus at 1:03 PM on September 7, 2011


Great feature, thanks!

I found a bug on the London, UK page, namely that none of the relevant posts are listed.
http://ask.metafilter.com/travel-transportation/uk/london
posted by snoogles at 1:16 PM on September 7, 2011


Thanks snoogles, fixed that up.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:22 PM on September 7, 2011


Damn it, useful stuff like this is going to force me to be helpful and spend more time on the green.

Where my usual brand of off-topic nonsense is not welcome. Which means I'm going to have to actually think about what I type before I hit "Post Comment".

Which is to say; Neat!
posted by quin at 2:08 PM on September 7, 2011


I can't wait until this feature is added to the law and government category. It drives me crazy when someone asks a question related to legal issues or how the government works, and then they don't specify what country, state, county, or city they are asking about, especially anonymous questions about their legal rights related to personal or family matters. Argggghh, we can't answer your question if we don't know where you live!
posted by marsha56 at 2:38 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


How about adding GeoLocation automatically to every question, like Twitter does with posts.

You could have a radio-button:
Location: [ ] None [ X ] Use My Current Location [ ] Use this location: ____________
posted by blue_beetle at 2:50 PM on September 7, 2011


Is "New York, NY" going to comprise the five boroughs or will it be split up like in IRL?

@griphus
All the boroughs will be categorized under New York, NY because the system can't handle that much division within a general area when they are not separate towns.

Dom has a unique essay to write: "How I spent my summer vacation".

@Cranberry
You can find day by day descriptions of my day at my mefiintern blog on tumblr. Up until the last week (start of geo coding) I was posting every day, but now that I'm finished and will have some interesting things to share, I'm back to the grind. Enjoy! And thank all of you mefites for the congratulatory wishes!
posted by Dominic. Allen at 2:51 PM on September 7, 2011


Out of curiosity, how on earth did he do this?

You should follow him on twitter! There you learn fascinating things like how quickly he could tag things. More than a 1000 in "a couple hours", even! Pinterns are magic.
posted by donnagirl at 2:55 PM on September 7, 2011


Batch processing? Or manipulation of the very fabric of time?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:58 PM on September 7, 2011


Three cheers for the pintern!

Please choose from the following options.
posted by not_on_display at 3:13 PM on September 7, 2011


Does Dom get a gold star by his name now, too?

Or at least a gold check mark?

Or maybe a gold globe!

Or a favicon of Atlas holding the world on his shoulders and kinda twisted to the side like the weight is bulky and awkward and make sure the muscles in his shoulders kinda pop out to really show that he is straining and also his stance should be low to the ground and both feet planted with his heels really dug in* to show that he is lifting with his legs, too, not just his back because I hear that's really bad for you. Yeah, that would be really cool. Do that one.

*Which of course begs the question: digging into what, exactly? Can't be earth, because he's holding the earth, right? Maybe he's on a big rock? Mount Olympus? The back of a gigantic turtle?

posted by misha at 3:49 PM on September 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Nicely done. Thanks!

A++ for choosing Berkeley as the example.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 4:33 PM on September 7, 2011


How about adding GeoLocation automatically to every question

We're easing into it and we'll see how it goes. Twitter's geolocation has very little to do with collocating questions about a similar location, so what Twitter does and why bears little resemblance to what we're doing here and why.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:57 PM on September 7, 2011


Wow!
posted by rtha at 5:12 PM on September 7, 2011


Yay!

Does this mean I no longer need to update the wiki with travel questions?
posted by gingerbeer at 5:15 PM on September 7, 2011


Could we extend this feature to automatically tell me where to go whenever I comment?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:21 PM on September 7, 2011


How about adding GeoLocation automatically to every question

We're easing into it and we'll see how it goes. Twitter's geolocation has very little to do with collocating questions about a similar location, so what Twitter does and why bears little resemblance to what we're doing here and why.


The question is coming from inside the building!
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 5:38 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Could we extend this feature to automatically tell me where to go whenever I comment?

If you need suggestions on where to go please check this thread.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 5:39 PM on September 7, 2011


I knew my passive-aggressive Metatalk post from 2007 would pay off in the end
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 6:12 PM on September 7, 2011


How will we do larger areas, like this one? Will it just be under "USA"? And, will there be an easier way to drill down to a specific area, other than typing it in the URL?
posted by Houstonian at 7:16 PM on September 7, 2011


This is amazing. Mad props. I already use AskMe as my first stop for humanized geographical information and this will just make it easier.
posted by threeants at 7:37 PM on September 7, 2011


Sorry about that -- I see you've already answered questions about how we can drill down to areas of interest later. I do still wonder, for questions that take up several distinct areas all within one country, will they be categorized at the smallest-possible level? For example, the question I linked would be under "USA," but a question about a Highway 101 roadtrip would all be under "California"? A question about seeing redwoods would be "USA" because it is California and Oregon?
posted by Houstonian at 7:37 PM on September 7, 2011


Yay, this is cool and useful!
posted by carter at 7:51 PM on September 7, 2011


A question about seeing redwoods would be "USA" because it is California and Oregon?

Not every travel question is going to be able to have a geographic location, and we're ok with that. It means that someone browsing through the California page might not stumble on a particular question about the redwoods, but we have lots of other tools for finding questions. This isn't meant to be the sole way people find things about a location.
posted by pb (staff) at 7:52 PM on September 7, 2011


Now, a location-based question browse thingy based on gmaps itself - that would be very cool too. As in, you get to see your location with all suggested AskMe questions as pins, and also the locations around it which also have questions related to them. This isn't even a pony, just a vague idea ...
posted by carter at 7:57 PM on September 7, 2011


Is there any way to display the list of locations?

It took me quite few tries to find that "New Zealand" was new-zealand, although "United Kingdom" is uk.

Maybe it would help to alias every country by its two letter code?
posted by HiroProtagonist at 8:01 PM on September 7, 2011


Now, a location-based question browse thingy based on gmaps itself...

We're thinking about possible map visualizations, but keep in mind we only geocode to the city level. And because there's a large body of questions, the map would basically be a standard map with a dot for every city—not too interesting. (Unless you're looking for topics that haven't been covered.)

Maybe it would help to alias every country by its two letter code?

That's not a bad idea. But once we have a box that you can type "New Zealand" into I don't think the URL will be as important. That box is on the way.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:03 PM on September 7, 2011


Thanks for doing this! It is really useful, and neat.
posted by Houstonian at 8:09 PM on September 7, 2011


I'd like to give a special thanks to our intern Dominic. Allen who went through 12,000+ questions in the Travel & Transportation category and added a location where possible.

...and wondered 'what the fuck kind of manual labor data-entry digital coolie nightmare have I gotten myself into?' the whole while, probably.

Then again, I got the best job of my life way back in the day having my data-entry temp agency job contract bought out so I could become a full-time employee, so you never know.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:29 PM on September 7, 2011


This kicks ass, thanks so much for this. I am planning a Travel question in the next few weeks, so I'll be trying it out!
posted by I am the Walrus at 7:28 AM on September 8, 2011


asdfasdf, Nevada? Or asdfasdf, Maine?

asdfasdf England, you US-centric bastards!

Nice work, Dom!
posted by penguin pie at 1:13 PM on September 8, 2011


Just watch, in 2012 "where the fuck are my keys?" will be a perfectly valid AskMe.
posted by griphus at 1:29 PM on September 8, 2011


Just watch, in 2012 "where the fuck are my keys?" will be a perfectly valid AskMe.

They're in the freezer.

(This actually happened to me once. I got home and immediately got something out of the freezer, so I put my keys there. Now every time I can't find my keys I look in the freezer, but they've never actually been there again. Maybe I should keep a spare set of keys in the freezer - I'd remember to look there.)
posted by madcaptenor at 1:37 PM on September 8, 2011


More than a 1000 in "a couple hours", even! Pinterns are magic.

I assume his employer blocks *.metafilter.com so he is more productive then the rest of us.
posted by terrapin at 1:59 PM on September 8, 2011


I assume his employer blocks *.metafilter.com...

You know how certain Christian people make the sign of the cross when they hear something terrible? I just had the instinct to do that.

I'm Jewish.
posted by griphus at 2:04 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


"where the fuck are my keys?" will be a perfectly valid AskMe.

I think MobileMe might actually be the one handling that.
posted by Miko at 7:28 PM on September 8, 2011


pb, I want to make sure you're aware of one of the conditions of use associated with the geocoding API:
Note: the Geocoding API may only be used in conjunction with a Google map; geocoding results without displaying them on a map is prohibited. For complete details on allowed usage, consult the Maps API Terms of Service License Restrictions.
I like this feature and don't want it to get shut down.
posted by jjwiseman at 7:33 PM on September 8, 2011


Ask MetaFilter is a map... of the human condition. Most of the answers on Ask MetaFilter are derived from Google. QEMFD Ask MetaFilter is a Google map.

You're welcome. Sleep tight.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:36 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the heads up, jjwiseman. I wasn't aware of that—we'll look into it.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:00 PM on September 8, 2011


Pinterns are magic

Dom is a house elf! Excellent work, now go and clean the silver.
posted by arcticseal at 2:44 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is pintern really used to mean 'paid intern?' That seems weird because a lot of interns are paid. 'Intern' is a description of the type of position but not necessarily of your pay.

I guess an unpaid intern could be a uintern, in this system.
posted by Miko at 8:57 AM on September 9, 2011


That's just the word Dom used when he introduced himself and I think it's become a bit of a sitewide joke.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:38 AM on September 9, 2011


uintern

Also this is totally pronounced WINtern.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:38 AM on September 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I thought that said unitern and was picturing a cute, stubby little forehead horn.
posted by Gator at 10:31 AM on September 9, 2011


Maybe it would help to alias every country by its two letter code?

This is going to run into problems with US state/TLD collisions.

.al Albania
.ar Argentina
.co Colombia
.de Germany
.ga Gabon
.ma Morocco
.md Moldova
.me Montenegro
.mn Mongolia
.mt Malta

et.c.
posted by zamboni at 12:06 PM on September 9, 2011


I used it already! And I didn't even know it was new until afterwards when I came here. But I did think to myself, "Hey, that's cool. I'm glad they have that field."
posted by lollusc at 1:27 PM on September 9, 2011


Composed a Few Miles Above Pintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Gray During a "Rest Break". September 7, 2011

HEEEEEEEELLLLLLPPPPPPP MMMMMEEEEEE!!!!!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:59 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm simply not using it right, but I was surprised that "Netherlands" got very outdated results only. Amsterdam, however, gets much more recent results, while those results even acknowledge that Amsterdam is in The Netherlands. What's going on there? (even so, I love this feature, thanks!)
posted by Ms. Next at 2:03 PM on September 9, 2011


Looks like a collision somewhere between "Netherlands" and "The Netherlands" in the system. Thanks for pointing it out, we'll get that cleaned up.
posted by pb (staff) at 2:07 PM on September 9, 2011


Related, but not: ¿bug? report:

http://irl.metafilter.com/archived.mefi/6/01/2010
is a past IRL meetup in Milpitas, but
http://irl.metafilter.com/go/us/ca/milpitas/past
lists no past meet ups in Milpitas.
posted by morganw at 5:12 PM on September 9, 2011


That's because the Internet isn't sure if Milpitas exists.
posted by madcaptenor at 6:17 PM on September 9, 2011


Thanks morganw, fixed up Milpitas past.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:24 PM on September 9, 2011


We just added maps to the location pages. As you hover over points on the map you should see the city name, and you can click any points on the map to go to that page of results. For example, if you're looking at the page for Oregon, you can click any of the points on the map to go to the travel page for just that city. Say, Portland.

We only track to the city level so there aren't any points to show on the Portland map. We show the city map to give you a sense of what it looks like and give you the option to zoom in or around the city as you browse questions.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:39 PM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's really neat! Looking at the Oregon map, as some of the questions are vacation/fun-things-to-do-in-X questions, you can get an overview of which places in the area people think are fun/cool ...
posted by carter at 3:46 AM on September 10, 2011


Hm, on a search for "Salem" I get Salem, OR but not Salem, MA. I know there are Salem, MA questions, though.
posted by Miko at 5:23 AM on September 10, 2011


We don't have any Travel & Transportation questions located in Salem, MA right now. If we missed some you can send them our way and we'll add the location info to the question.
posted by pb (staff) at 6:48 AM on September 10, 2011


Looks cool. Looks like something's a bit screwy with the Wales category. We're alway being described as the bit tagged onto England, now it looks as if we're tagged onto the us as well..
posted by lloyder at 7:02 AM on September 10, 2011


Hmm...these are in the "Travel and transportation" category and aren't showing up.

Please help me celebrate Halloween in Salem!

I'd like to take a group on bicycle from Cambridge MA to Salem MA. Route suggestions?

There are also those other categories that have great overlap with travel info. It would seem that "food and drink," would be the next most useful category to add to this search, as it maps right onto travel a lot since it contains recommendations for places to eat and such.
posted by Miko at 7:26 AM on September 10, 2011


We're deliberately rolling this out on just the one category for now, but assuming nothing goes horribly wrong we're planning to open it up for the rest so people can use it whenever it makes sense.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:29 AM on September 10, 2011


We also ask for a single geographic location. So sometimes when a question is about "I'm traveling from x to y..." there's no way to include a single location.

In the case of the question about traveling from Cambridge to Salem, we could probably include Massachusetts as the location. We're happy to add locations as people point them out, but we're also not concerned about having a location in every possible instance.

Looks like something's a bit screwy with the Wales category.

Yeah, "Wales" is mapping to Wales, Wisconsin. We'll get that cleaned up.
posted by pb (staff) at 7:57 AM on September 10, 2011


Yeah, that's not correct at all, Prince is from Minnesota.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:08 AM on September 10, 2011


We also ask for a single geographic location. So sometimes when a question is about "I'm traveling from x to y..." there's no way to include a single location.

Is there a way to read the tags for this?
posted by Miko at 9:11 AM on September 10, 2011


No, I can't think of a way to use tags for this that wouldn't result in frequent false positives. There's no way to know which tags would be "location" and which tags would be standard tags. Some tags that aren't for location could be mapped to a location when that was intended at all.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:20 AM on September 10, 2011


I'm not sure what you mean. If, for instance, "Salem" or "Boston" appeared in tags, it couldn't show up under the location search?
posted by Miko at 7:25 PM on September 10, 2011


There are a lot of locations that would show up in the tags that wouldn't clearly be single locations. So something like Portland which could be either coast, or something like Washington [state or DC]. Then you have locations that are also just plain old nouns, something like riverside or boulder, and things get even more confusing and a lot of false positives where we might presume a location that was not intended as a location.

So, without specifically having an aspect of the tagging feature that said "this is a location" next to a tag, there's not a way to get this information without some sort of human touch to it. This may be a sort of thing we can add on to the existing tagging structure in the future, but as it is, it won't do this without an awful lot of noise.

We've sort of accepted that there will be things that locations won't really work for. Roads trips is one of them, moving questions [I'm going from here to here, what do I need to know that is different, what is there to see along I-10] and a few others. We'll be looking at whether there are ways to find a way to do location stuff with those sorts of questions, and making lists of what doesn't work is important, but we want to roll out something functional for a big chunk of questions first and then tease out the more edge cases sorts of questions over time.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:45 PM on September 10, 2011


It seems fitting that this is the first thread I read after returning from vacation.

To solve the mapping-to-the-wrong-location error, after the person enters the location, could you show a thumbnail preview of the map, with "is this where you meant?" Ideally, the person could drag/drop the marker, but I'm not sure how much coding that involves.

Really ideally, it'd be great if ANSWERS could include a geotagged location. So, if I recommend the Milwaukee Art Museum, there'd be a marker there, and if 20 other people have also recommended it, the marker would be accordingly larger (i.e., proportional symbol map).

So, as you planned your trip, you'd click on or search for "Milwaukee" on the questions map, which would bring up the answers map with large circles for the art museum, the zoo, etc and smaller ones for, say, specific restaurants that haven't been mentioned as often.

I know this is getting farther afield from what the site is for, but you mentioned maps and I can't be held responsible if I ramble on.
posted by desjardins at 8:48 AM on September 11, 2011


Just noticed this. I like it. Thanks, guys!
posted by phunniemee at 11:12 AM on September 11, 2011


« Older Is this a self-link?   |   November MeTa Book Club Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments