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Toronto, Kansas

I quite like Yahoo Local, and use it frequently. But try searching for “bargain department store” in “toronto, ontario, canada” (without the quotes). The site tells you that it couldn’t find any stores in Toronto (because it only knows about the US), but perhaps I’d be interested in Kohl’s Department Store near Marion, KS.

If you zoom out on the map, it becomes clear what’s guiding this seemingly random choice: Marion appears to be dead center in the US. Thus, it is statistically most likely to be near any randomly chosen point in the country.

While this may make probabilistic sense (Or maybe not: I was a Humanities major), it makes no common sense. Yahoo would satisfy more query-ers if it picked an area dense with population. Or it could just say, “Yo, moron! Toronto isn’t in the US…at least not yet, bwahahaha!!” Although I have to say, I find something charming about being redirected to a small town of geometric significance.

(Disclosure: Years ago I was on a little Yahoo Local advisory board that met once.) [Tags: ]

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