Announcement New Feature: Member Map

Jeff Westover

Chief Elf Officer
MMC Founder
Santa's Elf
Kringle Radio DJ
Oct 7, 2004
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Now available to Premiere Members is a new feature called Members Map. It's a map showing the approximate location of all Merrry Forum members. You can access it via the "Members" link in the left sidebar.

It's not a true locator, as in showing your address or anything like that (we don't have your address). It is based on the IP location of where you use the forums. That's usually tied to your ISP.

For example, I actually live in Smithfield, Utah. My pin on the map shows "North Logan, Utah" as my location because that's how my IP address is labeled. North Logan is actually about six miles south of me.

It's fun to look at the map and see how many people we have checking in from all over the world.
 

RadioJonD

♪♫~Guru of Yule Audio~♫♪
MMC Lifer
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Oct 7, 2005
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How often, if ever, does the map update?

As the crow flies, I am 177.116 south and a little west of my currently shown location. My home internet provider is a regional company that bought a lot of independent telephone companies across the deep south. My online location constantly changes between cities served by the parent company.

So, today, Hello from Tennessee Ridge, Tennessee! (But I ain't really there!)
 
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Jeff Westover

Chief Elf Officer
MMC Founder
Santa's Elf
Kringle Radio DJ
Oct 7, 2004
13,339
14,594
444,881
Cache Valley, Utah
jeffwestover.com
How often, if ever, does the map update?

As the crow flies, I am 177.116 south and a little west of my currently shown location. My home internet provider is a regional company that bought a lot of independent telephone companies across the deep south. My online location constantly changes between cities served by the parent company.

So, today, Hello from Tennessee Ridge, Tennessee! (But I ain't really there!)
Exactly. The way I looked at it the map gives us an idea of where our membership is generally, but not exactly. As far as the map "updating" there really isn't an answer to that. It basically shows the IP location from the last time you were on the forums. For folks using VPNs or proxies, it'll never even be close to accurate. You could live in the USA and it might show you in Italy. I suspect there are some folks who do that.
 

MerryCarey

A Voice from the North
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No, it's an all or nothing deal. It crossed my mind and if folks are uncomfortable with it we can just disable the map entirely.
It could betray when someone is out of town on vacation, if their public profile shows where they live and if they post while they're away from home. Some folks might think of that as a breach of privacy.
 
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Jeff Westover

Chief Elf Officer
MMC Founder
Santa's Elf
Kringle Radio DJ
Oct 7, 2004
13,339
14,594
444,881
Cache Valley, Utah
jeffwestover.com
It could betray when someone is out of town on vacation, if their public profile shows where they live and if they post while they're away from home. Some folks might think of that as a breach of privacy.
In looking at the settings if you're not here (logged in) for more than a few days it doesn't register any location for you. The map doesn't show all users -- just those who have been recently logged in. I haven't yet tested that, though.

In obtaining the programming for the feature I did read the developer debate about that because in Europe the rules for privacy online are quite different than in the US. In fact, last year around this time we all had to install new software to deal with data we collect and how a user can control it.

The use of IP addresses, however, is not considered "personal" data. My own ISP, for example, has changed my IP three times in just the past two months -- for whatever reasons. In each instance, it shows my Internet location all from points that are distant to where I actually am. I was told to think of my IP address like cell tower locations. Another thing affecting IP addresses is each network's router -- depending upon the type and how they are set up, IPs can be randomly assigned at different times.

The great difference here between what we're doing and, say, Facebook, where they collect your name, your address, your friends, the year you were born, the place you went to high school, and other such critical identifiers is that we're not retaining, transferring or selling any user information. The map is like looking in a mirror or at a snapshot -- it's a moment in time and its nebulous in what it is showing.

The other thing to consider is who has access to that info -- which is this case is just our premiere members, lifers, crew members and myself -- and we'd all have to access the map during that critical moment in time. So is it possible someone could ascertain you're not at home via this feature? Yeah, it's possible. But they could also ascertain that from something that you post.

In any event, if this feature is a deal-breaker, I'll disable it.
 

Iteachpercussion

Santa Clausologist
Santa's Elf
Premiere Member
Nov 10, 2013
1,281
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I think this is fine and pretty neat. For those concerned about safety if you are on vacation, as long as you are not telling everyone on here your exact home address, it will not give a criminal the information to go to your home anymore than you posting that you are going on vacation. If you have Facebook, there is a much higher chance of someone suing that to track you than this.

I do not see anything to be concerned about here.

Just as a side note, I checked where it had me, and it has the town, but no where near where I actually live in relation to the little dot.
 

MerryCarey

A Voice from the North
MMC Lifer
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Thanks for the good info, Jeff and ITP. Sounds reasonably safe to me.
We’re not on Facebook, for various reasons. Now we have another one!
 
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Jeff Westover

Chief Elf Officer
MMC Founder
Santa's Elf
Kringle Radio DJ
Oct 7, 2004
13,339
14,594
444,881
Cache Valley, Utah
jeffwestover.com
Thanks for the good info, Jeff and ITP. Sounds reasonably safe to me.
We’re not on Facebook, for various reasons. Now we have another one!
Facebook is...and Twitter too now...just too much any more for me. I'm there but I've cut way back and have things locked down as much as I can.

As for MMC's connection to Facebook, it's a necessary evil. We have a page there with some 6000+ followers. When we post something to the site it automatically gets linked to our Facebook page. It's necessary because without a social media presence the search engines ding you. So we're on FB, Twitter and YouTube. Those all have to be managed.

Of course, it's the sewer of society -- so there's always a lot of work dealing with the trolls and mean spirits out there who want to condemn you for mentioning Christmas in March or denoting anything religious related to Christmas or whatever. I hate it. But we have to be there in some small way.
 

xmastidings

Santa's Mentor
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Oct 5, 2010
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Yea, I’m in the same boat like Merry, I’m not on Facebook, Twitter, or anything else, other than MMC. And I never will ever be on any of those; regardless of whatever everyone else does in the world.

I love what you wrote,
“it's the sewer of society”

Amen brother! I couldn’t of had said it any better.

When it comes to Facebook, Twitter, the government, etc..., here’s a good quote to remember:
“I'm watching you, Wazowski. Always watching. Always.”!!! Lol!!!!