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Why does my location in stackoverflow profile change?

In my profile, I indicated I live in Québec, Canada. This meant "the province of Québec, in Canada". When I looked at my profile today, however, it indicated "Quebec City, Canada". This either means that my OpenID is now compromised, or that there were automated changes to profile data from the general assumption that people who write "Québec, Canada" as their location actually mean "Québec City, Canada".

Of course, first, I'd like to be sure that these were indeed automated changes. Since I'm not noticing any other weird thing happening with my account, and I can see that it happened to one of my friends with "Québec, Canada" as its location too, it's easy for me to assume that it's an automated change.

And second, if it is indeed an automated change, there are a few pitfalls I am noticing. (If it's not, disregard that last part.)

First, it's not accurate, mainly because there is no specified format for the Location field, and Québec refers to two places in Canada (the province and the city); and because of a wide range of factors, it's most of the time a mistake to change "Québec, Canada" to "Québec City, Canada". (Inside the province of Québec, it is very uncommon to refer to Québec City as a "direct descendant" of Canada. I can't tell for other provinces, but I'm under the impression that it's very uncommon to refer to "[Canadian City], Canada" at all.)

Second, it's spelled wrong. I know we are on an English site on a mostly English network, and Québec itself exists on a mostly English continent, but in French, accents have full orthographic value; therefore, it is an error to omit them. Most people in Canada probably do that mistake, and some of the people in Québec probably do it, but I'd expect any automated change to get it right.

And last, this is unexpected. There seems to be no system in place that allows Stack Exchange to notify users about changes that concern them. I, for one, would think that it's very important to notify users that their profile data is about to be changed or was changed automatically by a heuristic algorithm. Otherwise, they get either astonished, angry, confused about if they should worry, or a mixture of the three, and ask easily avoidable questions on the support site.

  • +1 for your last paragraph, even though your question is already closed as a (not so exact, I'd say) duplicate. – Hendrik Vogt May 2 '11 at 12:11

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