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How To Clean Up Incorrect Geolocation Information? 392

zorro6 writes "I thought this might be an interesting question/topic and it would sure help me to get some kind of answer. I recently got internet service from a small, local wireless ISP in my area (south central Colorado, USA). The strange thing is that many, many web sites think I am in Quebec, Canada when I use the service. Evidently some geolocation service thinks my IP address indicates I am in Canada. I have checked the obvious. The WHOIS information for my IP correctly indicates a location of Durango, CO. So the bad info is coming from some more sophisticated geolocation service. My ISP is at a loss as to how to fix this but it is causing me a lot of grief. Many of the ads I get shown on Yahoo! for instance are in French! Certain sites won't sell me goods or services because they don't do business in Canada. So far I know that Yahoo! (or their ad provider), Nvidia, Movielink, etc. all think I am in Canada. I would sure appreciate any help/info on how to get this corrected."
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How To Clean Up Incorrect Geolocation Information?

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  • by hansoloaf ( 668609 ) <> on Thursday June 19, 2008 @12:15AM (#23850345)
    Adult Friend Finder would like to know too
    it's silly when they show many hot looking ladies from Morrisville VT (pop. 2000).
    • Move? (Score:5, Funny)

      by BizzyM ( 996195 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @01:01AM (#23850745)
      Or perhaps you should just move out of Quebec???
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by UnixUnix ( 1149659 )
      Try Pearblossom, CA :)

      I mention the Geneva Convention in a post... here come the hawt chykks of Lausanne.

      I write "too many Chiefs and not enough Indians" in an email and presto, I'm contemplating Bollywood beauties.

      Semantic Web my foot.

    • Re:personal sites (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Thursday June 19, 2008 @03:25AM (#23851663) Journal
      It's stupid, but I always look twice... pop 10k here, so I would have seen them before.

      Still, my favorite has to be this one [], and ones like it.

      Seriously, one of these days, I have got to get into the porn business. If any idiot with FrontPage can make money, imagine what will happen when you get someone competent... I can see it now: PornDB! Complete with buzzword compliance (social networking! REST!) and a query language!

      SELECT videos.* FROM models LEFT JOIN videos ON model_id WHERE bust_size > size('33C') AND bmi 120;

      (Nobody mod me insightful!)
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        AND bmi 120;

        You're not from Oldham or Rochdale, are you?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lena_10326 ( 1100441 )

        SELECT videos.* FROM models LEFT JOIN videos ON model_id WHERE bust_size > size('33C') AND bmi 120;
        The gay version. Heh. Heh.

        SELECT videos.* FROM models LEFT JOIN videos ON model_id
        WHERE cock_size > size('7.0 INCH') AND height > size('6 FEET') AND chest = 'hairless' AND body_rating >= 80/100;

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I see the same ladies that you see, but they are labeled as being from Binghamton, NY. I was visiting in Rochester, and once again, these very same ladies were tagged as being from Rochester NY.

      These hot ladies sure get around.
  • by jupiterssj4 ( 801031 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @12:16AM (#23850357)
    I don't know how to fix it, but I know that some ads (before I got adblock plus) thought I lived in a town about 25 miles from here but it was later fixed. I don't know what happened but it was weird seeing "Find sexy ladies in xxxxxx, oh" and it not being my current location.
    • Maybe it was trying to tell you that the closest sexy ladies were 25 miles away :P

      (I'm trying really hard to not make Ohio jokes since I live here lol)
    • Re:happened to me (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dak RIT ( 556128 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @01:23AM (#23850909) Homepage

      Geolocation services are just large databases that map IP addresses to physical locations. There's really nothing else to it. Who owns a set of IP addreses can also change quite frequently, and so these databases need constant updating.

      As an example, here's the FAQ [] provided by a geolocation service I've used in the past:

      GEO I/O compiles several sources of data to achieve 99% accuracy at the country level, 85% at the state/regional level, 80% at the (US) city level (within a 25-mile radius), and 60% accuracy for cities outside of the US. The data is stored in a proprietary format, limiting our ability to make individual changes to it, however the database is updated monthly by our data providers.

      Basically, it will get fixed when the group maintaining the data updates it, which in my experience can be anywhere from a couple weeks to a year.

    • Re:happened to me (Score:5, Informative)

      by MrNaz ( 730548 ) * on Thursday June 19, 2008 @01:26AM (#23850923) Homepage
      There are two widely used geolocation services which should be your starting point:
      MaxMinds [] and IP2Location [].

      I would contact them and get them to update their records, especially MaxMind, as they are probably the most widely used geolocation service on the Internet.
      • Re:happened to me (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Mike89 ( 1006497 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @02:28AM (#23851303)
        I have the exact opposite problem... plugging my IP address into Maxmind, I get my EXACT town (and it's a small one, believe me). Yet, any other address in my ISPs range just says the capital city of my state. Can I convince Maxmind to like.. you know.. MAKE MY DAMN STATIC IP NOT POINT RIGHT AT ME!? And how'd it get like that in the first place?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Just Some Guy ( 3352 )

          Can I convince Maxmind to like.. you know.. MAKE MY DAMN STATIC IP NOT POINT RIGHT AT ME!?

          Nope. There are probably plenty of other sources doing the same. Run whois sometime to see who owns the netblock you're in. If it's someone like Qwest, that doesn't tell you much. If you use a small ISP, that might get you right to them.

          Method #2: dig -t ptr -x to get the hostname you're posting from, or one of .0 or .255 if that doesn't tell you much. Then whois the domain name or check out their website. That may be as vague as telling the world that you use Comcast, or

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by grahamm ( 8844 )
        I notice that neither of their demos work when presented with an IPv6 address.
      • Here's the demo (Score:3, Informative)

        by wbean ( 222522 )
        For those who want to try it, here's a link to the demo page []. (And note the link to check your own IP in the bottom right :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kdemetter ( 965669 )
      That's normal . The whois information of your ip adress doesn't contain your adress , but it likely contains the adress of your ISP headquarters , or some datacenter .

      So in other words , your ISP is 25 miles away .

      It's probably the same case here : the ISP datacenter might be located in Canada for reason , and so the whois information shows that .

      There's no way to fix it , unless you get your ISP to move . Or maybe you could just get another ISP.
    • Re:happened to me (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Chapter80 ( 926879 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @04:43AM (#23852025)
      You should go to another site, and do a "tracert" (traceroute) to your regular location, and see what path it takes (noting the last few locations). Or do a tracert from your regular location and look at the first few entries. Maybe even try a web-based tracert site. []

      You may see an upstream location that appears to be in Canada. Maybe the reverse lookup domain name is misleading, and these geo services are making an assumption (like being in Ontario Canada, and not Ontario California []).

  • Proxy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KevMar ( 471257 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @12:18AM (#23850371) Homepage Journal
    You might have to track down a proxy to surf from.
  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @12:18AM (#23850373) Homepage Journal
    but you're going to get a lot more help if you provide your ip address, even if you don't like doing that to the crowd. Or at least let us know what your router's IP address is or some other address in your subnet, since they are probably all the same (wrong).

    Unless you are only interested in knowing the generals of how to fix it yourself, not more in depth examination of your problem (and possibly an immediate solution) This will be the difference between "try this and look that up and see what this is and google for that and ..." vs "call XXX at 555-1212 and ask for their geo department, problem solved".

  • Not to point out the obvious, but my first instinct is always "blame the user." Have you tried clearing out any cookies relevant to the offending sites?

    • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @12:56AM (#23850721) Homepage Journal
      It is always wrong to blame the user for stale cookies. Cookies are set by the server, not the user, and the server can (and should) update them as necessary.

      Besides, that has nothing to do with the problem here, which happens when the web site looks up the IP address in a locator service, and gets wrong information back. The IP address is independent of cookies.
      • by profplump ( 309017 ) <> on Thursday June 19, 2008 @01:09AM (#23850799)
        Not that cookies have anything to do with geo-location of IP addresses, but you're only 98% correct. Cookies are set by the server. And servers should updates them as necessary.

        But sometimes you have old cookies with names that still mean something to the server, and values that don't. It's bad programming practice, but it happens. In particular it can happen if you don't go to the site very often -- when the site is updated from v1 to v2, v2 can read v1 cookies without a problem. And when the site is updated from v2 to v3, v3 can read v2 cookies without a problem. But if you visit during v1, and don't visit again until v3, the server could be confused by your cookies that are invalid for both v2 and v3. Obviously the right choice is for the server to clear/update cookies it doesn't understand, but that doesn't always happen. And while clearing the cookies client-side is lame, it does fix such problems.
  • by R3d M3rcury ( 871886 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @12:23AM (#23850423) Journal
    Hey! Cheap meds!
  • (Score:3, Insightful)

    by braddeicide ( 570889 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @12:24AM (#23850433) seems to pioneer GeoIP information, I suggest contacting them.
    • (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) * <> on Thursday June 19, 2008 @12:36AM (#23850549) Homepage Journal
      I agree with this. I've implemented GeoIP on a bunch of sites. Basically, they give you a database linking class A / B / C blocks to certain areas. I don't know where they get this data, but it's what most sites use to determine where you're from. I suggest contacting MaxMind, the maintainers of GeoIP, to correct your information (it's not immediately obvious from their FAQ who you should talk to, but I would start at their contact page []). Unfortunately, getting them to make the change may not immediately come into effect on clients' sites... most sites use a static version of the database and update it fairly infrequently (since GeoIP charges for a subscription).

      As a side note, I once made an antifraud system on a major unlocked cell phone seller that relied mostly on flagging orders coming from certain countries (using GeoIP) as possible fraud, as well as people who had used the same CC number on more than one account, people who had more than one account in general (using various stats like email address), etc. Seemed to work pretty well for them.
    • Every web application I've ever used that did geotargeting used the MaxMind databases. I'd certainly recommend contacting them.
    • (Score:4, Informative)

      by nicklott ( 533496 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @03:26AM (#23851667)
      You can check if it's maxmind by simply pasting your IP in the box on this page: []

      I've spoken to some of the devs there before; if it's wrong I don't think you'll have any problems getting it changed.

  • by Skidge ( 316075 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @12:24AM (#23850441)
    It's amazing how many people rely on geo-IP information when it's so unreliable. Denying potential customers use of your services because of tenuous assumptions you're making about them seems like bad business.

    We'd use geo-IP data at my old job, but it was just in non-critical, stop-gap places, trying to provide a better experience to users that we knew nothing about. Denying some customers use of our site would have been costly.
    • I couldn't agree with you more. For various reasons my connection generally goes through various other countries, meaning that any website using Geo-IP information (and yes Google, I'm talking to you!) gets it wrong. It's really a case of people trying to make their software too clever. It really makes a lot more sense to provide a tiny drop down list in one corner of your site to allow people to choose location/language.
      • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @02:22AM (#23851267)
        any website using Geo-IP information (and yes Google, I'm talking to you!) gets it wrong. It's really a case of people trying to make their software too clever.

        I live in Hong Kong, and my IP matches that. But I don't read Chinese. Many websites thoughtfully redirect me to a Chinese language site, and have NO FUCKING WAY to override their language choice. is automatically converted to Assholes. If I wanted I WOULD HAVE TYPED IT MYSELF. Yes, I know, now, how to fix that on my PC, but Google still does that whenever I use it from someone else's PC.

        And it was always good for a laugh to see the Adult Friend Finder ads, with buxom corn-fed blondes spreading their legs under the heading "Girls in Hong Kong want to meet you for sex".

    • Well, if you are using geo-Ip to prevent usage from countries of high fraud rates, then it can make a lot of sense. No reason for mom & pop to accept wedding cake orders from mongolia.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19, 2008 @12:24AM (#23850447)
    Download anything and everything. The MPAA will think your in Canada and look for someone else to sue.
  • Good luck with that. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Stalus ( 646102 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @12:29AM (#23850493)
    Even if you do get the address corrected, it will take years before these companies update their databases and work correctly. About a year ago, the US Post Office changed the zip code in the area that I just moved into, and it has been a hassle left and right.

    The electric company claimed they didn't offer service to a house that they were currently providing electricity to. My health insurance was changed to an 'out of area' plan even though my dad already had the right provider in the same zip code. Sears wouldn't deliver until I gave them the old, incorrect zip code. Even Google still has it wrong on some maps, but not others (and I filed the bug months ago, but no fix).

    Welcome to another series of problems created by software developers who made bad assumptions.
  • by Ares ( 5306 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @12:29AM (#23850497) Homepage
    You may not get anywhere with it, but it might be worth it to try and contact Yahoo's ad department about this. After all, its pretty worthless to be dumping a French ad to an American, and as a result a waste (however small) of the money the advertiser spent getting the ad to you in the first place. I'm suggesting Yahoo because you mention specifically their ads showing up, but if there are any others that do the same thing, it might be worth contacting them as well.

    Yes, it does seem rather counterintuitive to most of us here who block ads, but they are a source of revenue for the likes of Yahoo, and if they can chip in some effort to more effectively target you, you've gone a ways towards solving the problem with the other sites.
    • My advice is to go the route Ares suggests, by contacting Yahoo about the problem, but in addition, I would emphasize in my communications with them that as a customer, they aren't getting full value for the money they pay their geolocation service. This may be more effective for actually motivating Yahoo to contact its geolocation service about it, rather than just complaining about bad ads.
  • Proxy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EEPROMS ( 889169 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @12:33AM (#23850525)
    The actual problem may be that your ISP is outsourcing the proxy to a datacentre in Canada thus it may be stuffing up the GEO_LOC software on some retail servers. Try using another proxy (within your area obviously).
  • by rcarsey ( 158673 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @12:36AM (#23850547)
    As you may have been aware, the US economy has been in a rut. I'm not quite sure how "connected" you folks are out there in them sticks of Colorado.. but Bush decided he needed a new war to boost the economy and get cash flowing again.

    The Russians weren't interested.. so we picked a fight with neighboring Canada. As is usual with US military operations lately, we failed.

    Your part of the country actually IS Canada now dude. Good luck.. better than living in the States.
  • Yahoo and other sites rely on databases of geo data. E.g. databases mapping IP ranges to geographical locations.
    There are a few providers of such databases and they constantly need to update their databases to fix issues as the one reported by you.
    E.g. notify []
  • by Karpe ( 1147 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @12:40AM (#23850583) Homepage
    Move to Canada.
  • I live in Québec!

    You insensitive clod!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19, 2008 @12:45AM (#23850625)
    My IP address is and none of the geo-location companies can find me.

  • I'm not here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by enoz ( 1181117 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @12:46AM (#23850629)
    I'm interested to find out how to clean up "incorrect" Geolocation info too.

    Increasingly it appears sites are using GeoLocation to route you to a different version of their website, or prevent you from viewing content.

    Sometimes it may be useful, such as when Google serving you localised adverts, however when they get it wrong it can becomes a great pain in the arse.

    Worse is when sites ban you from viewing content, or just ban you completely, based on your location.

    I'm sure some people will rationalise the need for Geolocation for restricting content, but I think it is akin to putting a poster in a public place and then trying to restrict people from viewing it.
  • Quoi? (Score:5, Funny)

    by pipingguy ( 566974 ) * on Thursday June 19, 2008 @12:49AM (#23850657)
    Desole, mais je ne comprend pas. S'il vous plait, ecrit en francais.


    Jean-Guy de Tabernac
  • Yahoo Ads (Score:5, Funny)

    by rueger ( 210566 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @12:52AM (#23850693) Homepage
    My ISP is at a loss as to how to fix this but it is causing me a lot of grief. Many of the ads I get shown on Yahoo! for instance are in French!

    Ah, you're complaining about the utility of ads that you see on Yahoo...? This must be a first.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by UnixUnix ( 1149659 )
      Lol! ...oops, sorry: XD!

      In emails in Greek the word "kai" is ubiquitous, as it translates to "and". Yahoo happily serves ads about Kai Fragrances or the Napili Kai Beach Resort -- in Maui. How much bang are these sponsors getting for their buck?!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Does this new small ISP have a Pringles can on its roof, pointed North?
  • Contact Akamai (Score:5, Informative)

    by pashdown ( 124942 ) <> on Thursday June 19, 2008 @01:03AM (#23850761) Homepage
    Have your ISP contact Akamai. As an ISP who was also misidentified as "being outside of the USA" by Akamai's geolocation, our customers suffered from the exact same kinds of problems with region protection on network streaming. We didn't get it resolved until we were able to shake the tree properly at Akamai.

    AFAIK, Akamai has the most utilized geolocation service out there.
    • I'm pretty sure parent is correct that this is your problem. If you want to test it, you could try doing a traceroute to yahoo and see where the Akamai node is.
    • by davenaff ( 839028 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @01:33AM (#23850985) Homepage
      Most of the major Internet companies use Quova (Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.) for their IP geolocation data (linky []. You don't need to have your ISP contact them. Just send an email to with your IP and physical location. They used to provide weekly data updates, so I imagine it is equivalent or more frequent now.
  • Wait until the USA annexes canada-you/they will be happy.

    all sarcasm aside, Is there much REAL difference anymore?
    I used to LOL at the intro for these games, but not anymore.

    Yes, my Karma can stand th 'fallout', but can you argue the fact?
  • Bummer (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by Ranger ( 1783 )
    It means when you surf those porno sites, you won't be able to find a fuck buddy in your area.
  • This is an easy fix (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cytlid ( 95255 ) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @08:37AM (#23853749)
    Dear movielink, nvidia, {insert website here},

      Your website is broken. I live in Colorado and my IP is If you don't believe me, my ISP is Joe's ISP and Tire Shack, Inc, just perform a quick whois on the information. I would suggest you contact whomever you use for geolocation information to have them correct it. ...

      Same information, not sent to Slashdot. If the people running the service don't respond to you, maybe they'll respond to a dozen companies who own the websites you go to. Remember, you're *their* customer, it's in their best interest to have your info correct.

      I used to work as a SysAdmin for an ISP, we acquired a new block of IPs which previously were owned by a nefarious spammer. I had to jump through hoops trying to convince some blacklists to remove us. Finally, when there was one list with zero contact information and it seemed to no longer have any management behind it, I called our customers (there were only about two) having issues emailing a particular state office. I called the state office and explained the situation, they whitelisted just the IP of our particular mail server.

      Think about solving the problem in a different way.

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.