Mapspam Reporting Looses Visibility In Map Support Groups

Update from Google’s Maps Guide Jen: “We’re working on a solution. In the meantime, we’ll try to be extra vigilant about the spam that is reported”.

Google’s recent upgrade to their support forums has a number of pluses and a few minuses.

The tighter integration with their Help System and the ease of locating the forums from within the Local Business center will definitely help more users in finding them. The ability to note that a post has been solved will provide a certain accountability for Google and other users to know if the poster understands the solution. On the negative side, the loss of summary and detailed emails of all postings is a workflow annoyance but one that can be worked around with RSS.

A more disappointing change and one that will frustrate users is the loss of visibility of the Mapspam reporting thread.

For the first half of 2008, Google’s Mapspam reporting was very ad hoc leading to a great deal of frustration on the part of small business owners and LBC users. In July I noted:
It is time for Google to step up to the bar and provide typical business people with an obvious means to report these problems and a clear cut procedure for dealing with it. The time for me to be the industry watchdog has passed and Google needs to accept full responsibility for solving this problem. That means:
1)Providing an obvious reporting mechanism
2)Responding aggressively to reports and removing the reported spam
3)Google should be proactively searching for and removing Mapspam on their own initiative
4)Continue to make it more difficult form Mapspam to enter the index.

However, shortly after my rant, Google added and highlighted the Mapspam reporting link and they “stuck” the reporting thread to the front page of the old forum. This action highlighted the Mapspam issue, made the reporting mechanism more clear AND let people know that Google was paying attention. It seemed to help in many ways.

While the thread for reporting Mapspam still exists in the new help area (you may find it here), only the more experienced users of the forum will find it. This lack of visibility means that the Mapspam posts will not be as centralized in the new support forum. If the proliferating Mapspam posts do not get answered by Google, it will leave the distinct impression that they have been unread by Google. It seems likely that the frustrations levels will once again rise.

Google, for the past 6 months, appeared to be moving down the path outlined above (with the exception of #3 which is long overdue), and this loss of reporting visibility is a definite step backwards in the battle against Mapspam.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
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11 thoughts on “Mapspam Reporting Looses Visibility In Map Support Groups”

  1. Hmm, that is a real disappointment, Mike. I wonder why they did this. Perhaps a Maps Guide would care to comment? I don’t understand how they could see this as an improvement.

    Congratulations on your SEMMY nominations, Mike!!! I’m so proud of everybody in Local. Hooray!

    Miriam

  2. Hey Mike,

    At the moment our new help forum doesn’t support “sticky” notes, so we’re unable to float the spam reporting thread to the top. We’re working on a solution. In the meantime, we’ll try to be extra vigilant about the spam that is reported.

    Thanks,
    Jen

  3. Yes it is a tragedy. Even worse is none of my spam reports are being acted upon. And btw, I am still not back in Maps. How long does this code lock-down last?

    Maps Jen where are you? Heelp.

  4. @Miriam
    Thank you and congrats back.

    @Jen
    I like extra vigilant. Thanks for letting us know. Please keep us posted/

    @PanzerMike
    Perhaps now that Google is being “extra vigilant” you should repost them.

    Mike

  5. The star next to the thread title can be selected and viewed anytime by clicking on the “starred” label to the left. Just a thought on this, for those trying to keep an eye on the mapspam thread label as well as others.

  6. Hi Rodrick

    Thanks for the star tip…that will help the serious followers of the forum and make it easy for them to track.

    It doesn’t help the newbies in finding the thread as much and given that Google doesn’t seem to typically respond directly to these sorts of posts, it leaves the impression that they are not reading them…I suppose they may not if aggregated as well.

    I can attest to the fact though that I received significantly fewer pleas for help after they started the highly visible thread than before.

    Mike

  7. They do look at the thread, I noticed that after the new posts were made the comments were left opened and “unlocked” and after a while the comments in that thread collapsed leaving me to think that they are reading into them and collapsing the thread to show that the new comments have been read, as that is not the case in my 3X the reply numbered thread.

    I found the little star helpful and I keep track of my hot topics with it, including the map spam, but I also agree it needs a front and center attention. It might actually be MORE helpful to them to make a form of sorts for people to spill their spam logics into rather than a visable thread, because people posting against spambots means that if the spammers are watching they will look to hijack and use peoples own listings against them.

    The google maps world has gone a bit soft I think. It has made strides in getting better but this year they are fallen without a helping hand to get up except for our input.

  8. @Blumenthals:

    Dude I did repost them. Does she hate me? I hope now, cause I think she’s cool. Plus she’s pretty hot. But I am married, so oh well. Next lifetime.

  9. It was really a big disappointment on your part mike coz you spend a big amount for that Map Guide. Good for me my car is a very old model and don’t have Map Guides.:)

  10. @panzermike

    I would suggest that given typical karmic models, you are unlikely to find success in the next lifetime either.

    Mike

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