Microsoft's maps lost Melbourne because it used bad Wikipedia data
Bing Maps relies on Wikipedia? Even a bit? Umm, guys, you do know anyone can edit it?
Microsoft has laid part of the blame for Bing Maps' mis-location of the Australian city of Melbourne by a whole hemisphere on Wikipedia.
Yes, Wikipedia, “the free encyclopaedia that anyone can edit.”
Microsoft made its admission after your correspondent took to Twitter on Monday to do what we in publishing call “pimping" the story of Melbourne's mis-placement.
Ricky Brundritt, a senior program manager at Bing Maps, noticed that pimping and responded as follows.
@ssharwood This issue has been fixed. Missing negative sign in Wikipedia data.— Ricky Brundritt (@rbrundritt) August 22, 2016
We then pressed Brundritt about the extent of Bing Maps' reliance on Wikipedia, with the following results.
@ssharwood Not too much. Mainly only for rich description on map website. The developer API's don't use this and didn't have this error.— Ricky Brundritt (@rbrundritt) August 23, 2016
Our conversation concluded as follows:
@ssharwood Just realized you were author of blog. This issue was limited to a few regions as duplicate entries for this result were in data— Ricky Brundritt (@rbrundritt) August 23, 2016
We've got a screenshot of the Tweets above in case someone – ahem – decides to delete them.
Deletion may be an option because our exploration of the Wikipedia page for Melbourne suggests it had the correct co-ordinates back in February 2012. So there you have it: Bing Maps sometimes relies on Wikipedia data. That data can be edited by anyone and is therefore often contentious.
As commenters pointed out in Sunday's story on this mess, Microsoft's motto was once “Where do you want to go today?” If your answer was Melbourne, you probably ended up using Linux. ®