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Google has brought the idea of user-generated content a step further with its plans to allow users to edit Google Maps to make it more accurate.

The new functionality will allow those with a Google account to make changes to markers, which indicate business or residential listings on Google's local maps service, dragging them to a more accurate location.

However, this will be limited to ensure that the new feature is not abused. For example, users will be unable to edit any markers where a business's location has already been verified through Google's Local Business Centre. And if your new edit shifts a marker more than 200 metres from Google's original placing, a review system will kick in to double check it.

Google will also keep a history of any alterations made to the markers, via a mini-map that displays the new locations and the original Google-placed one. Users need to be signed in to make changes, but before privacy groups take up the cause, other users will not be able to see your full username, but rather only the first two letters.

"Whenever you find a recently-moved address or business, you'll see a 'Show original' link you can click to see where the marker was originally. If it's in the wrong place, just move it to the right one," said Google Maps software engineer Seth LaForg on the Google LatLong blog, the official blog for Google Earth and Maps.

The system is limited at present to maps of the US, Australia, and New Zealand.

© 2007 ENN

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