I had a feeling this day was coming. Google MapMaker has been a product that served as the back-end editor for Google Maps for a long time but Google’s lack of communication, attention to the product, and lack of bug fixing has made me skeptical about their plans to keep the product around.
As of today, Google has announced that MapMaker will cease to exist as of March 2017. The functionality of editing features like roads or trails will be moved over to the Google Maps platform and there will be several announcements of major feature changes in the next few months.
Some of the major lingering questions that have yet to be answered include:
- Will users be able to moderate each other’s edits? Currently on Google Maps, you can submit edits for businesses but every single edit is moderated by Google (either a bot or a human). Unlike with MapMaker, there is no current ability for a user to jump in and either approve or deny another’s edit. There is a feature I have seen on mobile recently as a Local Guide that does ask me if edits that were submitted are correct so that could be Google’s plan for allowing moderation. However, most active mappers do their mapping on larger screens (which is much easier) so I really hope Google plans to expand some of these features beyond mobile.
- What will happen to the Regional Leads program? In the past, Google has benefitted from all the “free” help that comes from active power mappers. At this point, we really don’t know what this change means for those who have spent a ton of their free time making edits and reviewing edits via MapMaker.
- Will Google be adding visible edit history to places on Google Maps? This is one of the things that makes MapMaker so great. You can currently view the history of edits on a feature which allows you to make sense of the current information and see a bit of how it got there. This would be probably my #1 request to Google – to make edit history publicly visible on Maps. Without it, many feel it’s going to be a spammers paradise.
Google has definitely not held back lately on the announcements to features that impact small businesses. It will be interesting to see what further information we get about this major change as the months continue and March 2017 gets closer.