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Reduce number of destination guides (consolidate metro areas, etc.)#286

One of AO’s recet sponsored items was for “St. Pete/Clearwater” ( Looking at the existing guide for St. Petersburg, there are other locations like Madeira Beach and Pinellas Park that would be included within the St. Pete/Clearwater area. However, due to their city names on the site, they would end up being separate guides if ever created.

This has lead me to think if it wouldn’t be preferable to reduce the number of destination guides by consolidating them into metro areas or similar. As shown above, even official touristic bodies like “Visit St. Pete/Clearwater” do this. I open it to debate however, as I know in some cases there are strong cultural reasons why locals could object to this. My understanding is that not many people from Oakland would be happy to see their home reduced to “San Francisco Bay Area”, for example.

Defining metro areas is of course tricky, but so is defining cities, towns, etc. anyway. Maybe simple rules would help here, like it’s ok to make a single guide out of many counties, but not across state lines (and their international equivalents). So Kansas City and suburbs in MO would be one, and Kansas City plus suburbs in KS would be another (both destination guides currently exist).

(I’ll split this over a few posts to prevent a full-on wall of text)

9 months ago

Some existing examples that I think show this idea working well:

London (
This guide encompasses pretty much all Places located within what is known as Greater London, rather than just the “official” City of London.

Chichen Itza (
A single guide for a well-known touristic site without a major population center nearby.

La Palma (
Single guide for one small island.

Outer Hebrides (
One guide, all Places with the same location name, located in the country’s equivalent of a single subdivision (country UK - nation Scotland - council area Outer Hebrides, related suggestion here:

Yellowstone National Park (
Sparsely populated, well-defined natural areas work well since most tourists just visit “Yellowstone” without caring much about whether they are crossing counties and such. If eventually needed, there could be 3 destination guides with the same name for WY, ID and MT for any Places in the entire park.

Cuatrocienegas, similar to Yellowstone at a smaller scale:

9 months ago

Considering the examples above, here are cases where I think the changes could improve existing guides:

Teotihuacan: the archeological site borders municipalities like San Francisco Mazapa and San Juan, each of which has a guide. Since they’re all in the same state, and the tourism is anchored on the archaeological site, a single guide might make sense.

Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, for a somewhat isolated, very popular natural feature.

Maybe the Everglades national park?

For USA cities, Miami area for starters, currently divided in separate guides for Miami, Miami Beach and North Miami Beach, among others.

Greater Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay, Dallas-Fort Worth, etc.

9 months ago

I’ve been told that this is sometimes related to AO’s geocoding system which links with Google. So if Google Maps doesn’t recognize “123 X Street, St. Petersburg” but it does “123 X Street, Pinellas Park”, then their default is to choose the suburb.

For no country does this seem to be more of an issue than Australia. Areas like Fitzroy and Collingwood, which are widely acknowledged as being a part of Melbourne, get their own guides because of this. This is despite a simple search for “Melbourne” in Google Maps highlighting the totality of the urban area, seen below.

Since the homepage now shows a ranking of cities by number of Places, these counts are more important. If I’m correct, including every AO Place in Greater Melbourne would mean that the city enters the list.

This is the case for Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, basically all Australian cities.

9 months ago

Atlas Obscura’s location identification system needs work. In the UK, it seems to sometimes arbitrarily create separate areas. For example, most places within Greater London fall within “London”, but for some reason, the Osterley Bookshop ( gets assigned to “Osterley, England”.

A related issue is that it is difficult to get edits accepted to city locations (see the discussion at Making edits would potentially be improved by a helpdesk system (

9 months ago

It often seems like the underlying issue behind some of these (duplicates, of which the most recent case happened yesterday; Places getting assigned to either the tiwn/city or larger area, and in some cases a neighborhood; etc.) come down to the Places (and apparently Gastro) teams not looking at the existing “Nearby Places” before adding the locations. I mentioned this before in #59 but that’s been Archived for a while even though it keeps reoccurring.

This suggestion, #286 I think is still related but distinct as I’d say it’s more conceptual as to “what” should destination guides be for, rather than “how”.

9 months ago

Since Mexico is the country I know best, figured I might as well add all my guide suggestions for it here, in case the team does decide to go ahead with the feedback. These are all related to the metro areas as defined in the country.

Metepec could be incorporated to Toluca:

Cholula and Tehuiloyocan into Puebla:

7 months ago