​Google reopens Map Maker in 51 countries, adds 'regional lead' moderators

Map Maker is back for a total of 51 countries, including the US and UK, but users in dozens of nations won't be able to access it until Google finds new regional leads.

Google has reopened Map Maker, the platform that lets users edit and improve Google Maps, with a new structure to better moderate community edits.

Google suspended Map Maker in May shortly after the discovery that Google's automated review system failed to detect that pranksters had added an Android logo peeing on an Apple logo to Google Maps.

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The fallout of that incident coupled with a rise in overall spam submissions forced Google to begin manually reviewing all edits, but it couldn't keep up with the pace of submissions, causing a publishing backlog. It subsequently suspended Map Maker until it figured out a faster way of reviewing submissions.

Google's solution to the problem was to turn over more responsibility for edits to a "regional lead", who would be nominated by Google to review edits in their area, backed by Google's automated moderation systems. Google's own operators would basically step aside and community moderators would take over, it said at the time, flagging an August timeframe for the launch of the new structure.

As noted by Android Police, Google opened Map Maker up to users in Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, India, Philippines, and Ukraine a few weeks ago but as of Tuesday's phase two of the Map Maker rollout, it's been expanded to a further 44 nations, bringing the total number of countries to 51.

Another significant change is that polygon editing - the feature that the pranksters had abused to create the peeing Android - has been disabled. Map Maker users can now only edit names on polygons, rather than the polygons themselves.

As for other nations still locked out of Map Maker, Google said they will become available once the company has identified a suitable number of regional leads in those areas.

"Regional Leads are selected by Google based on the history and quality of their contributions to Google Maps and the Map Maker community. If you are interested in being considered for the program, please apply using this form," said Pavithra Kanakarajan, a product manager at Google Map Maker.

Countries still omitted from the list include Australia, Bolivia, Chile, Finland, Norway, and Spain, among others. The full list of countries where Map Maker has been enabled can be found here.

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