When we first launched this site back in 2008, it was the Portland Pinball Map. Then people in other cities wanted to use our interface+app, so we created separate maps for them. We figured that distinct maps would encourage locals to “own” their map and keep it up to date. And distinct maps would help contain the data, so that admins would have a better chance of verifying the validity of data. And users would have a higher chance of updating the data, given that the regions were centered around populated areas with active pinball scenes. Plus, we didn’t want to attempt to map every machine in the entire country. That had been done before, and it resulted in many locations in far off areas that are never updated.
We refer to each map as a “region.” But what is a region? Where does it end? The Portland, Oregon map extends across the river to Vancouver, and all the way to the coast. This map includes all the pinball machines in Portland, but also all (or most) of them in 30 other cities. The edge of the Portland map is fuzzy. We don’t know where it ends – it’s a judgment call.
Now there are 65 regions on the site, which means 65 judgment calls. Which means site users are sometimes confused. For example: We used to have a Milwaukee region. But it grew to cover the entire state. Users from Madison would contact us asking for coverage in their city. They didn’t realize (understandably) that Madison was tucked within the Milwaukee map. So we changed the name of the region to Wisconsin to more accurately reflect the contents.
Regions are sometimes defined as cities, sometimes states, and sometimes… regions. But most of them turn into the same thing: amorphous blobs with no definable edge. And it’s the people who turn them into this. So we’re trying to figure out if each map’s value as a curated, regional map has been surpassed by peoples’ desire to cover everything.
So please take this survey! And leave a comment if you have a comment. We want the data to be valuable and accessible. There are upsides and downsides to both the regional model and the open map model.
Survey is closed as of November 17, 2015! We’ll make a post about the results soon!