Argleton goes national!

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It seems Argleton just won’t die! Late to the game behind the Ormskirk Advertiser, Mister Roy’s visit and my post about the village some 13 months ago, the Daily Telegraph yesterday revealed the mystery of Argleton, the ‘Google’ town that only exists online.

It’s a nice article with exclusive interviews from Joe Moran from LJMU and, of course, Roy Bayfield. They’ve also managed to get answers from Google and their data provider Tele Atlas.  Google’s spokesman said:

“While the vast majority of this information is correct there are occasional errors. We’re constantly working to improve the quality and accuracy of the information available in Google Maps and appreciate our users’ feedback in helping us do so. People can report an issue to the data provider directly and this will be updated at a later date.”

Ah yes, report the fault… that’d be what we’ve done on several occasions without success and may be the reason why Google have decided to take corrections into their own – or more accurately the user’s own – hands.  It seems that drawing the attention of a national newspaper has caused Tele Atlas to pull their finger out:

“Mistakes like this are not common, and I really can’t explain why these anomalies get into our database.”

Let’s try a bit harder, shall we… is it because there is no process for checking data before it’s added?  Is it because you’ve chosen not to buy additional sources of data to verify against? Is it because your error reporting procedure is so poor that 13 months later it’s still in the database?  No?

For Google, errors like these are annoying.  They recently announced Google Maps Navigation for Android 2.0 offering turn-by-turn directions similar to Tom Tom and other devices but for free.  Accuracy of maps and the ability to keep them up to date will be one of the big selling points.

But time may be nearly up for Argleton “A spokesman [for Tele Atlas] said it would now wipe the non-existent town from the map.”

Update: Mister Roy appeared on Radio 5live’s The Weekend News (starts at 25 minutes).

22 thoughts on “Argleton goes national!”

  1. Good points Mike, and kudos to you as the original discoverer. Worst of all, the Telegraph article has bumped both of us from the top search result position for ‘Argleton’ on Google, with loads of feeder news sites spamming up the lower reaches. Finding a chiropractor in Argleton is getting more difficult.

  2. This may not be over yet – my brother is talking about creating a Facebook group to “save Argleton” and that it would be a great subject for a mockumentary. Roy, you may be asked to reprise your expedition!

  3. I’ve got to say I was a bit surprised with Joe Moran’s quote: “It could be a deliberate error so people can’t copy maps. Sometimes they put in fictional streets as the errors would prove they were stolen. I haven’t heard of it before on Google Maps.” Particularly the last sentence, because I thought it was all but common knowledge there was dummy data in Google Maps. Specifically regarding the likes of Dummy1325.

  4. I doubt Dummy1325 is a trap street or place name – it’s more likely dodgy data that’s slipped in, but it does reinforce the question over how common they are and why Tele Atlas seem unable to say how they get there!

  5. “Save Argleton” on Facebook. Great idea. You could also create a cast of villagers, a la Royston Vasey. ‘The Argletons’ on the radio. The potential is endless…

  6. I even saw your name mentioned in the G2! You are now the official international Argelton specialist!

    You are a star Mike!

  7. Dear Mike,
    I just read about Argleton and I noticed that, if read from the last to the first letter, its name is “not Elgra”. Searching Elgra on google maps gives 2 results, but I don’t understand what they are. One is close to Chester, the other near Bristol.
    Both of them seem to be houses. Is this a cue?
    Benedetto

  8. The anagram is on the right track, methinks…
    Argleton Fish Restaurant = Rehearsal for Giant Stunt.
    I bet this is a deliberate plant…

  9. Brett, you are right,
    the fish restaurant could be an interesting starting point for the investigation…. :)
    ok ok, I was only thinking to an elaborated joke from google, but my imagination runs, particularly in the night.

  10. The reason the spokesman of TA doesn’t know how the error got in there, is because he probably didn’t bother to talk to a quality officer and was happy to act stupidly, or maybe the newspaper did not contact TA at all – no surprise for media these days “oops, can’t reach them, article is overdue, let’s just say we spoke to someone”.

    Because, how the error got in is fairly clear. Argleton, Mawdesky and possibly other “places” are misnamed centre points of areas of a now mostly obsolete administrative structure. TA obtained the admin structue from UK government, but probably failed to check the names of the areas, which are drawn from town names, like Aughton and Mawdesley.

    Google took over this obsolete area structure, rendering it through their centre points. For the nearby Ormskirk this results in two locations: one for the actual town centre, one for the centre point of the area.

    You will probably find many of these ghost towns in Google’s map of England, and many doubles as well.

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