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New News Blog

July 1, 2013 [news]

We thought we’d add a little news blog to the site. We’ll try to keep it regularly updated with both site news (regions, features, new deep thoughts, etc.) and whatever pinball news suits our fancies.

We’ve been running this site for four or five years. It started with just one region - Portland, Oregon - and has since steadily expanded to 34. We love seeing it grow. And it’s especially cool to hear how it’s been useful for a lot of people–whether they be seasoned players or new enthusiasts–find pinball machines in their area. We get a fair amount of positive feedback/press (recent articles include one in The Magazine). We continue to put work into it because it’s fun, and it feels good to work on something that others actively use and enjoy.

We say this a lot, but it’s worth saying it again: each regional map’s strength and usefulness comes from its data, and the strength of the data is derived from the people who live in that area and spend their time using and updating the map. The data gets stale (out of date) when people don’t use the site. That’s why when we add a new region, we try to have the approval and support of the area’s main leagues and active players. It’s true that the map can help boost interest in pinball in the area, but it’s really helpful for there to be a decent level of interest at the start (and knowledge of where many of the machines are). We just added Eugene, for instance (sorry for taking so long with that one), and it immediately took off.

Some regions are weaker than others (if anyone lives in Miami, and knows of more spots with machines, please submit them to your regional admin!). One of the roles of the regional administrators (each region has at least one local person curating the data) is to spread the word. We often just let the admins go at their own pace, with little direct marketing guidance. Luckily, the admins usually run with it and do a great job of getting users to visit the site!

One other very important duty for the regional admins is to receive the “new location” messages, and then add those locations to their map. We really try hard to make the site intuitive for visitors, but one thing that’s tough to fully control is how users input data. The site uses the Google Maps API. The API uses latitude and longitude information to place the location on the map. And the lat/lon is generated from the address. The API is temperamental. For instance, sometimes simply using “blvd” instead of “boulevard” will cause it to fail to generate a lat/lon. So for that reason (and some others, including users sometimes suggesting locations that are already on the map), we have the admins verify the data before adding a location. After that, any visitor is free to add and remove machines from locations. If a visitor tampers or makes a mistake, another visitor will often correct the mistake!

If you want to keep up to date with location updates for ALL regions, then follow this newly-created @pinballmapcom twitter account. It might be TMI for most of you, though. And we haven’t decided yet if we’ll personalize the account–aka follow people and comment and stuff. If you’re into twitter, it’s probably more fun to follow the regional map accounts, like @portlandpinball, @pinballnyc, @pinballbayarea, and @la_pinball and such. But we DO read the account, so if you want to shoot us a question or comment through it, we’ll respond.

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New News Blog - July 1, 2013 - Pinball Map