Walking the territory redraws the map.
November 3, 2009 8:58 AM   Subscribe

Forgot to mention: via Nelson.
posted by gleuschk at 9:14 AM on November 3, 2009

Saw this yesterday- such an odd thing to do. But odd in a strange and wonderful way. It is stuff like this that makes me feel like the internet is the modern day Black Forest, and metafilter is one collective effort to stumble through it.

Someone even went to the effort to create fake pages not only on Wikipedia, but also a fake national railway entry for the supposed train station. Yay pointless internet!
posted by localhuman at 9:20 AM on November 3, 2009

The story is good, but the photos are great. They're perfect counterpoint.
posted by lekvar at 9:25 AM on November 3, 2009

Is it a fake town in Google Maps, or a fake town in the TeleAtlas/NavTech map data that Google uses?
posted by blue_beetle at 9:26 AM on November 3, 2009

blue_beetle: Google doesn't use TeleAtlas (or anyone else) in the U.S. anymore.
posted by amuseDetachment at 9:31 AM on November 3, 2009

amuseDetachment: Argleton is (isn't) in the UK and the map data appears to be from Tele Atlas
posted by ghharr at 9:38 AM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Cool post. Related: has Google maps started to really suck for anyone else lately? It no longer recognizes my address, gives crap directions, and on more than one occasion has led to me to the wrong address for a particular business.
posted by billysumday at 9:44 AM on November 3, 2009

Whoops, ignore my U.S.-centric automatic bias, then.
posted by amuseDetachment at 9:44 AM on November 3, 2009

more than one occasion has led to me to the wrong address for a particular business.

Hell, yes. I have been annoyed and irritated by numerous 'unconfirmed address' entries for businesses in Toronto that have started to make the service pointless without additional checking (that might as well replace the initial search anyway).

Does anyone know of any 'report this location' services for false search results on google maps?
posted by Brockles at 9:53 AM on November 3, 2009

Wow, an attribution. Thanks! To be fair I first saw the story in The Telegraph. There are several active news stories about Argleton right now.

Fake data in map databases is pretty common as a copyright canary. Right in San Francisco we had a Submarine Bells Way in an impossible location on a steep hill. It showed up on Google Maps, NAVTEQ, and Garmin GPS. It's gone now, at least from Google.
posted by Nelson at 9:57 AM on November 3, 2009

Strange. The entry for Argleton in my Anglo-American Cyclopedia simply says "see Uqbar." No matter, I shall have to consult my New Traveller's Almanac instead.
posted by Electric Dragon at 10:02 AM on November 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

Bargleton is better. They have a monorail!
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 10:09 AM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Novice players are cautioned against playing Argleton unless all mauve stations are in knip.
posted by acb at 10:43 AM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

There are some dating-type site ads that seem to try to localize data, but with similar amusing results. Their data sets seem to pull some antiquated placenames, because I've heard of them, but I seriously doubt anyone would self-classify as being from an archaic community. I could be wrong, and there could be a bevvy of young women in the hinterlands, attempting to make contact with the outside world through a dating site.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:44 AM on November 3, 2009

Hmmm, looks like it's not in the TeleAtlas data (visible here) It's Google only.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:01 AM on November 3, 2009

Clearly a mis-spelling of Aughton, a place so vile that I truly wish it was imaginary.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:07 PM on November 3, 2009

has Google maps started to really suck for anyone else lately? It no longer recognizes my address

If I try and get Google Maps to suggest a route from where I actually live to where it thinks I live, I have to go through an imaginary town to get home.

Google Maps thinks I live in Southport -- which is where the person who visited Argleton lives, but it's a good twelve miles or more from where I live.

If I take the second recommended route to Southport from my house, the route Google suggests takes me through Argleton.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:14 PM on November 3, 2009

The fake street on a copyrighted map is a pretty old trick. I got caught by it in San Fransisco, when I thought I could take a shortcut from the place I was staying to the Metro station. The map made it look like there would just be a fence or some narrow barrier between the end of a cul-de-sac and the main road, but the cul-de-sac I was expecting to use wasn't there.

As for Google directions, I had a nightmare road trip a couple of years ago, due to relying on Google directions. It started in DC, where every direction was wrong, and ended in Niagara Falls, with the same. My girlfriend thought she was being prepared when she printed out all that information and packed it neatly in folders...prepared for a horrorshow of wandering through strange cities in the middle of the night with no idea of where we were, that is.

Supposedly they are working on crowdsourcing their directions now, asking users to send in corrected directions. Let me know if it works.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:39 PM on November 3, 2009

via Nelson

Via Nelson?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:49 PM on November 3, 2009

PS. The cul-de-sac I couldn't find wasn't Submarine Bells Way. It was in a subdivision with a Hazelwood Ave. and a Valdez Ave. next to each other. Looks like it was Monterey Heights or thereabouts. They stuck in my mind because that was the year of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:53 PM on November 3, 2009

I used to live on Hazelwood, Jimmy. (Clearly this is my MeFi thread). Was the phantom cul de sac near Riordan High School? It might have been a legitimate error, there's some confusing near-roads through that land that are not actually passable.

Submarine Bells Way was entirely impossible; it was shown going right through a friend's house and in a section of Noe Valley so hilly you couldn't possibly build a road there.
posted by Nelson at 3:52 PM on November 3, 2009

We have a fake town inside the borders of my city called Anderson. I first noticed it in the Delorme Wisconsin Atlas probably close to 20 years ago. It has no entries in any history book or official census. It appears in no histories and has no political presence in the county. It has wormed its way onto Google as well as other online maps and in large aggregator databases such as weather and crime information. But as far as I and anyone else around here know, it has never existed.

The location is a largely empty quarter which includes a County government complex, a gravel pit, and a dump. On Google it appears to be right at an abandoned railroad junction, which makes me wonder whether it is a lost railroad designation (the spur was vacated a while back).
posted by dhartung at 6:26 PM on November 3, 2009

That's a wonderful post, gleuschk! I love these kinds of imaginative traveling. I'll have to be inspired by this tomorrow when I traipse around Purgatory Chasm with a friend from the Imperial Dominion of Canadia.
posted by Kattullus at 9:09 PM on November 3, 2009

I guess this is a case where a public source is better: OpenStreetMap is a community project, and no Argleton in sight.
posted by DreamerFi at 12:17 AM on November 4, 2009

I was looking over the map (I recall my friend's house being a little bit off of Yerba Buena, now (Brentwood?)) but can't quite pick out where that fake street was. I recall it looking like a possible shortcut to the BART (probably Glen Park), which was a fair hike from her house, and being on a long curved street, but I don't see anything like that. I seem to recall that it had a name, too, which is why I put it down to a copyright protection measure. I think it would have been no larger than a driveway, had it been real. I can't recall why I was walking to the BART, either, since I had a motorcycle. One of those mysteries of failed memory. Too bad I didn't have a Sensecam.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:22 PM on November 4, 2009

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