SABOTAGE! A Lesson in Open Crowd-Sourcing

UPDATE: I have had an email from a teacher in Melbourne, Australia who has explained that it was her students who messed up the Paris map. It was by accident and not at all malicious, they were trying to create a Maths Map of their own for Melbourne. I am relieved to hear that it was non-malicious, but it has highlighted some important issues for me.

Last night I checked in with the Shapes in Paris Maths Map to check to see if others had added any other placemarks or activities. Initially I couldn’t find the map – only “Maths in Melbourne” which I hadn’t created. This is when I uncovered the sabotage.

Unfortunately “medg” (from their Google profile – last edited by…) had moved all of the Paris placemarks to Melbourne in Australia. They were able to do this because I set the maps to be (a) Public and (b) Open to editing. As the placemarks are location specific it was a long process to find the exact points the activities referred to.

I have managed to recover the map and even add some new placemark activities about Shape and Space to extend the ideas to “51 Shape Activities”. I suppose I should have seen something like this coming, but never expected someone to go to so much trouble to disrupt the resource. As John Johnston remarked maybe not naive of me just “uncynical“.

View 51 Shape Activities in Paris in a larger map

The Maths Maps have been getting a huge amount of traffic. They are in the public domain and I presume that they can be found in searches of user generated Google maps. The three maps have had over 60,000 hits combined and the Paris map over 25,000. Unlike the “Interesting Ways” series the maps are discoverable and openly public. I think that explains the traffic (which I know is not teachers) and also the higher risk of someone messing them up for a laugh.

I still subscribe to the powerful process of crowd-sourcing to generate resources but will be closing the maps to open collaboration because of the higher traffic and higher risk. If anyone wants to contribute some ideas, and I really encourage you to help, then please just send me your GMail and I will add you as an editor. I think this is the right thing to do rather than always backing up and leaving it open to anyone to mess around with – after all I think that the bulk of the traffic is the public, and not educators.


  1. Tom, it's such a shame that you've had to do this, but then there's some malicious people out there! I suppose that the failsafe with previous things you've done is either:

    A. You've had to approve each contributor (Interesting Ways)
    B. There's a wiki-like 'history' to restore to a previous iteration (Google Docs, etc.)

    Unfortunately option B isn't available with Google Maps, so I think reverting to option A is the right thing to do!

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