The location on my profile page it has changed from NRW to North Rhine-Westphalia.

However, I did not edit that value or field myself. Did someone else change it?

Why did it change?

  • 4
    Related, maybe? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/88214/… Actually, noticing that this also has stuck me in Dublin... I think there's some strange things afoot.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 20:58
  • There's an auto-completion feature in place if you re-enter your location...but I can't tell since when. Or why it suddenly would append your already entered location. Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 21:00
  • Wow... I just suddenly noticed that my profile claims I'm from Belgium. Commented Apr 25, 2011 at 0:11
  • Do I have to change my profile on every StackExchange site now? Commented Apr 25, 2011 at 0:12
  • Why is the duplicate linked post asked less than 10 minutes before this question? Commented May 14 at 17:25

1 Answer 1


We're doing a best-guess match on locations across the network in an effort to get more consistent location formats for all the users, for example mine would be "Winston-Salem, NC", "City, ST", or "Something, Ontario" for Canada, "London, United Kingdom".

To do this we needed to perform a backfill of locations across the network, but we can't do this instantaneously since we're hitting against Yahoo's API to do this (which would more than likely ban us for a massive hit like that).

It's unfortunate but we will get a few false positives in here...we've reduced that as much as possible and checked many of the matches to ensure the correct location's being returned...but some will slip through, and we apologize for that. In the future this is done from your profile, rather than on the server-side, so whatever location you leave in that field after this we'll respect (but still recommend the match we found on the right optionally).

The process doing this is rolling through Stack Overflow right now (meta was done earlier) and will finish on the rest of the network tomorrow.

  • 1
    Geolocation by ip address is pretty unreliable. On an unrelated matter I though you should know that there is a very large ocean in between Teresina, Brazil and where I'm actually located ;)
    – JK.
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 21:19
  • 9
    Ah well, then geolocation by some random user input is even more unreliable :)
    – JK.
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 21:26
  • 1
    @John: "6" is a post code in Dublin: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Dublin_postal_districts
    – Niall C.
    Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 2:23
  • 6
    It's an invasive algorithm, IMO. Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 10:43
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    @Nick Craver, where should I report the incorrect locations? Mine was Vilnius, Lithuania and got changed to Vilnius, Republic of Lithuania, as far as I see for users in other countries the type of government is not displayed, so this is probably a bug. I should note this happened on my stats.SE account.
    – mpiktas
    Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 10:57
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    @Niall C.: "L" is a letter in the German alphabet. Thus, you must be in Vienna. \(^_^)/
    – ЯegDwight
    Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 11:56
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    @Nick: sorry, but this wasn't very nice. Why? Well, because you guys rolled it out automatically and I now have to change it manually for more than a dozen connected accounts. Still, thanks for the explanation. Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 14:49
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    @Status: Copy Profile to Related Accounts
    – SLaks
    Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 15:30
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    Please don't change my profile without my permission, it's frightening. Commented Apr 22, 2011 at 5:05
  • 4
    It seems that my Douglas Adams quote maps to Scranton, PA. It is just possible that he would have found that funny. Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 17:23
  • 2
    I can only agree with @Stephen Swensen. I also think that it's an important communication issue to make such changes without informing users beforehand.
    – zneak
    Commented May 1, 2011 at 19:15
  • 2
    Might have made sense to sort by population, to avoid hilarious false-positives like selecting Brooklyn, AL (population: 0) over Brooklyn, NY (population: 2.5 million) when a user put in "Brooklyn" (as with my profile).
    – Yahel
    Commented May 22, 2011 at 15:08
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    I fail to see why this was necessary Commented May 22, 2011 at 19:17
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    I'm not sure what you mean by "many pages were inconsistent" - the location of the user is not present on any page except the profile, and it has no effect on the operation of the site. With regard to "users wanting to query with data explorer", you could have just as easily provided a modified users table with these corrections specifically for SEDE instead. Of course, what's done is done, (and I'm only complaining about this now because I it didn't affect me so I didn't know when it was done), but regardless modifying a user's profile without their knowledge or consent is bad. Commented May 22, 2011 at 23:12
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    @Nick I still find about 1000 strange locations in the SO data dump, such as: "(c-with-templates)", "(the tiny red dot)", "/* no comments */", "/home/bedroom/bed", "3rd rock from the sun.", "A galaxy far, far away", .... From a geography-of-SO-researcher's perspective, I can't stress enough how inconvenient this is. Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 22:37

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