Yandex: make your own map
Yandex, the top search engine in Russia, bombards its users with new services: over the last month they added personalized search results, people finder and Twitter search. Yesterday Yandex introduced People’s maps – an interactive service which allows Yandex users to draw their own maps.
Today everyone with an account on Yandex or popular social media can contribute to People’s maps by adding streets, buildings, parks, all kinds of places of interest and, of course, businesses – each of those with a short description and some pictures. Creating a new object is quite easy – you trace it on the satellite picture of the area (building, street, etc.) and add the info. Users can freely edit each other’s contributions, add or replace information and report mistakes or made-up places.
Why would someone draw maps? Well, Yandex itself suggests that many of its users would love to improve incomplete maps of places they know and like. Yandex maps, the standard geographic service of Yandex, provides detailed maps of most big cities in Russia and CIS countries, but most small towns appear merely as names on the map. So, for businesses located in towns not covered by Yandex, People’s maps provide a great opportunity to become more visible by investing some time into drawing a precise map around their location.
Yandex developers promise to use all the information users post on People’s maps to eventually improve Yandex maps. Also they say that the API for People’s maps will be available soon, so that companies will be able to draw a map of their area and use it on their website.
Google, Yandex’s main competitor, allows its users to pin pictures to the map, but drawing streets and lakes is something previously unheard of.
I had to try how it works, of course, so I went to n.maps.yandex.ru, logged in and found the spot I wanted to mark – a sculpture of the Hedgehog in the Fog, a cartoon character, in the center of Kiev. It turned out that someone has already (!) marked it on the map, so I simply added a picture, a small description and a link to the cartoon.
What do you think of this new service? To me it seems like a brilliant crowdsourcing idea that is bound to be successful – as long as Yandex keeps the service working well. I’ll keep you posted in my next articles. Meanwhile, enjoy the ‘Hedgehog in the fog’ – one of my favorite Russian cartoons (with English subs).
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