Friday, November 23, 2007

Ambiguous URLs

(Oh dear, he is complaining again)

Flickr have released a new section on their website called Places.
It is all about browsing photographs in a geographical context, something I am pretty keen on ....

Such a shame then that they have done it all wrong :)

OK, so maybe not ALL wrong, but look at this example and tell me they got the URL hierarchy correct for the UK.

The URLs appear in this form :

http://www.flickr.com/places/COUNTRY/REGION/TOWN

looks sensible enough right? Until you see how it is used :

http://www.flickr.com/places/United+Kingdom/England/Brixton

OK, you say, so what is the problem?

Well in England there are at least two Brixtons that I know of, the one where I live in south London and one in Devon, near Plymouth. Do a search in the Places page and two Brixtons come up in the results, unfortunately they both have the same URL, and it points to the one in Devon.

I imagine this has happened to many places in Britain that share names.

IMHO it is the choice of regions in the UK that has caused this. Someone decided that the top-level regions in the UK are England, Scotland, Isle of Man, Channel Islands, Wales etc. Whereas I would say that from the point of view of wanting to disambiguate the URLs as much as possible, the names of counties should have been used.

Then we could have had :
http://www.flickr.com/places/United+Kingdom/Devon/Brixton
http://www.flickr.com/places/United+Kingdom/London/Brixton

While writing this and testing URLs I was playing with yesterday, I am seeing different results, so this indicates, I hope, that someone is tinkering, anyhow it was amusing yesterday to find that the place where I have lived for the last 30 years "does not exist on the planet".

As it is, the nearest I can drill down to my home is London, and this is a shame.

2 comments:

Bertrand said...

map.search.ch solved the problem nicely I think, for example in Switzerland their are two "Cugy", one in VD and one in FR, so http://map.search.ch/cugy gives you the VD one (of course, that's where I live ;-) with a popup to select the one you really want, http://map.search.ch/cugy-vd gives you VD, and http://map.search.ch/cugy-fr gives you FR.

So there's hope I guess ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeremy,
Re; Ambiguous URLs. I happened across your post and just wanted to respond. When confronted with COUNTRY/REGION/TOWN, I succumb to England/ London/Lambeth. The sense I make of this - for what sense there is - is that England is a country (at least it was last time I looked,) London is a region (according to tv broadcasters anyway) and anything smaller than a borough is, at least in London, just too small to count. Far too many piddly little towns (or "tons") all sprawling into each other with similar or confusing names such as Kensington and Kennington to confound the foreign eye or ear. But don't let them confuse you, particularly in regard to where you live!
According to my Universal Atlas (I know - very Boys' Own, but by God it's British!) there are only two Brixtons in the entire world, and the other one is in eastern Australia. Brixton, London dosen't even merit an inclusion - unlike that similarly sounding place Brixham, Devon (near Plymouth!) which does. Still, what can one expect from a web site that can't spell flicker! Look on the bright side: you've been relocated to a lovely little fishing town - at least it was when I used to go there as a kid.
Pip, Pip.
Brad.
PS. You've got some excellent photos.