Following the controversy surrounding Google Map Maker, the Maps team has been hard at work trying to improve the Map Editing tool. Following an initial hiatus Map Maker was slowly turned back on in various regions of the world, but unfortunately, Australia never made it to that list and now it never will.

In the wake of the mapping mishap, Google created the Regional leads program where select Google Map Makers were given access to moderate other people’s edits in an attempt to prevent another mis-map and the ongoing map fraud that goes on. Yes, Map Fraud. 

As a previous Map Maker and selected but never activated Regional Lead, I have a few insights into the kind of under-handed and downright shady things people can do when they have the ability to edit the map, and no I’m not giving examples as I don’t want to hand out a how to guide.

Without Map Maker, how will Google keep your neighbourhood up to date? Simple, with Google Maps. Google has been slowly adding more and more features into the stock Google Maps apps for mobile and the Web to allow anyone to contribute to the Map. How Google intends to manage the volume of edits without its army of Regional Leads remains to be seen, but I’d wager machine learning is involved at least in its marketing if not its engineering.

At present, there are already many Map Maker like functions that you can undertake from the Google Maps app, they include:

Google also incentivises contributions to Google Maps via its Local Guides program, where Google users can register to become a Local Guide and start earning points for their contributions. Earned points count towards your Local Guide ‘level’ which comes with various perks. Check out the current 5 levels below.

  • Level 1

    • Local Guides newsletter
    • Join Google-hosted workshops and Hangouts
    • Enter in exclusive contests for Local Guides (In select countries)
  • Level 2

    • Early access to new Google products and features
    • Promote your own meet-ups on the Local Guides calendar
  • Level 3

    • Local Guides badge in Google Maps
    • Exclusive Local Guides community
    • Moderate Local Guides community channels
    • Receive invites to Google-hosted events
  • Level 4

    • Free Google Drive storage
    • Eligible to be featured in Local Guides online channels
  • Level 5

    • Eligible for Trusted Testing opportunities — access Google products and features before they are made public
    • Eligible to attend the Local Guides summit

You can earn points in a variety of ways, but by far the most “efficient” is to add new entries onto the map. Each location on a map (a location could be a POI, Business park etc) is worth a maximum of 5 points, you can claim points for each location via any combination of the below ways, each type of contribution is worth 1 point, with a maximum of 5 points per place. For example:

  • Add a new place = 1 point
  • Upload 1 or more photos to the same place = 1 point
  • Write a review = 1 points
  • Answer 1 or more local questions about the same place = 1 point
  • Make 1 or more edits to the same place = 1 point

For those who use Map Maker you’ll know that there are still a lot of features missing, including add missing roads, edit existing roads, edit geometry (boundaries etc), add meta tags to locations to name but a few. This signifies not only the end of Google Map Maker but eventually the Regional Leads program.

It’s clear why Google made this decision, especially with their increasingly fiscally-responsible nature, and it should actually allow more people easier access to keeping Google Maps up to date. There will of course, be some who miss the exclusive feel of a little-known product, but hey it wouldn’t be Google if they didn’t occasionally kill off a niche but much loved offering.

If you’re a Map Maker and you haven’t joined Local Guides as yet it may be time to join up and transfer over all of your points to the new program. If you’ve been active you’ll most likely sky rocket to level 5 instantly.

Did you use Google Map Maker? Are you sad to see it go like I am? Let us know below.

Source: Google.
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I made hundreds of edits in map maker including a lot of edits to roads. I’ve tried getting them changed using the new system and it’s hit and miss. Some things they change the next day and others it’s been months and I get no response. I’m sad to see it go because sometimes you just need to brute force things. In the new system I am level 4 and over half way to level 5. It took a LOT of work to get to that point. I wasn’t trying to get the levels but it just goes to show… Read more »

Alan Cramer

It’s always the minority that wreck it for the majority…. This is why we can’t have nice things

Adam J

Updates to roads will suffer most. Unlike the editing features in Map Maker, the Maps app does not include the ability to edit line features (ie. roads, rivers, etc). New roads, changes to intersections, etc. won’t be reflected on the map as quickly as they were. I assume Google is going to rely on Waze users for those changes (which is a half-baked app in my opinion; it doesn’t even have Google account sign-in). I think the most disappointing aspect of this has been the way Google has completely ignored previously enthusiastic Map Maker users. On the up side, as… Read more »


However, road path editing in Waze is much much better than Map Maker ever was.

That said… I suspect that Google Maps and Navigation will soon suffer, greatly. It already has where certain regions have gone back in map relevancy. I’ve seen way too many out of date or missing businesses, wrong turn permissions at intersections, etc, etc.

I’m starting to look at the OpenStreetMap navigation/mapping solutions and personally contributing there instead.

Phill Edwards

I’ve always found the notion of suburb purely done in OSM maps. For example searching for a street in a suburb often returns nothing and you have to search for a street name in the whole city and sift through to find the one you want.