How to tell if a flag really is wrong - Correction requests

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How to tell if a flag really is wrong - Correction requests

Post by DaveG » Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:30 am

Inaccuracies in shown locations

Flagfox uses an internal IP address location database to do its lookups and give you a flag. Geotool also uses such a database, but the larger and more precise version that goes down to the city rather than country. Both are provided and maintained by Maxmind and are used by many other people and organizations besides us. We do not maintain this database.

We provide monthly updates to attempt to keep things as up-to-date as possible, however we're only as accurate as Maxmind's latest data and the Internet is constantly changing. The planet has some rather strict borders, but the Internet doesn't, so a small percentage may be off a bit in some areas. Unfortunately, 100% perfect accuracy isn't realistically possible.

It's also always possible that the server isn't exactly where you think it is. For example:

* Cache servers: Sites that get a lot of traffic often have multiple servers in different countries to distribute the load. The server you connect to and the resultant flag shown may depend on where you are. For example, if you're in Europe you'll connect to their European server; if you're in America you'll connect to their American server.
* Location-specific sites: Sites aren't always hosted from where they represent. You can host a website from anywhere. For example, the tourism websites for many nations are hosted in America.
* Localized sites: Any site can be in any languages; locale is not a determination of server location.
* Country codes in addresses: The TLD indicates the country the domain name is registered to, not the location of the server. It is perfectly fine to have the nationality of the server and URL differ. (Flagfox will notify you the first time you see this)

You can also try your lookup via another service such as or any of the other sites you can find with Google. You can use to look up IP addresses in multiple different organizations' databases simultaneously. Just copy the IP address (right-click on flag, then click "Copy IP") and paste it into the lookup field for a site. If you use another site to lookup by domain instead of IP the lookup will be for the server it connects to rather than you, which may be different due to cache servers.

It is also possible that on rare occasions the nationality reported by Flagfox and Geotool may differ. This is because they use different versions of the same Maxmind database. Flagfox only needs to know the country and uses the GeoLite Country database. Geotool goes down to greater detail, and thus uses the GeoLite City database. Including the more precise database in Flagfox is not possible due to its significantly greater size. In the event that these two do not agree, it's distinctly possible that there's a mistake somewhere on Maxmind's end that caused them to not be fully in sync.

Many IP ranges are updated to new locations in the database each month, so if you do believe there may be an inaccuracy you should take this into account and waiting to see what updates come out from Maxmind might be a good idea.

If you own/host/represent a site in question and are sure of an error which is not automatically fixed in a routine update, you can consider requesting a correction. If you do not have an official connection to a site's operation, then you cannot. Changes will require verification that you in fact have the authority to request the change on behalf of the site in question and the knowledge to verify that the change is in fact warranted. The corrections process goes as follows:

1) Check the current version of Maxmind's database using the IP address in question using this page here.
2) Verify all the information that step 1 gives you, and if you have proof that it is incorrect you may consider contacting Maxmind.
3) You will need to contact the corrections department of Maxmind with your server information, the output from Maxmind, and proof of the need for a correction. Do not complain to them about Flagfox or Geotool in any way. We are not affiliated with Maxmind. We are just one of the many services that use their public databases.

Any corrections that are made by Maxmind will be included in their next monthly update, after which Flagfox and Geotool will make their subsequent monthly updates at some point. Neither Maxmind nor Flagfox or Geotool will be making any rush updates to correct individual database inaccuracies.

There are exactly two people who work on Flagfox and Geotool in their spare time as a hobby, so even forwarding requests for corrections from everyone is out of the question. Even if we wanted to request corrections on the behalf of users we wouldn't have the resources to reliably verify that requested corrections are actually valid in the first place.

Imprecisions in shown locations

Flagfox shows country flags, not state or provincial flags. The database I use does not go down to that level of precision and that level of complexity is not currently desired. If you need to know this detail, use Geotool. There are, however, some regions which Maxmind does show separately in their database even though they are officially part of a larger country.

For example, both Puerto Rico and Taiwan (Chinese Taipei) have separate listings in Maxmind's database and these listings are shown with separate flags. The former is a commonwealth in the United States of America and has been on the verge of becoming the 51st state for quite some time, and the later is an independent region of China with constant tensions between them. These are two very different situations, yet they're both in the database with their own listings. This is not a political statement on our part, because again, we do not maintain this database. It is also not to be construed as a political statement on the part of Maxmind. Many geographically separate dependent states get this same treatment, clearly regardless of political standing.

Please do not request that we or Maxmind add or remove a region of any kind to the database. Our listings are dependent on Maxmind, and after they add or remove one we will in turn eventually take that into account. Maxmind will also not be adding regions to the database unless they actually have IP address ranges to be listed for those regions.

Discrepancies in shown flags

In the event that Flagfox or Geotool reports the physical location with a flag icon that you think is incorrect, please read and understand the following:

* The flags are freakin' tiny. There's exactly 18 x 12 pixels; this isn't much detail. Because we show them in Flagfox in the address bar, there's simply not enough room to have HD quality images. Sadly, this means that it can be hard to tell some of them apart. Some flags are very similar, in fact some are nearly identical.
* Many countries have more than one flag. We only use the primary national flag, not its military or other flag.
* Some countries' flags are contested. We have no desire to get into a political dispute, even if we agree with you. If it's not official for the country (yet) we're not going to use it.

I do update flags from time to time, however please be respectful if you do feel the need to request an update. The existence of an old or soon to be old flag is not an endorsement of the government it represents nor is any new flag that is put in its place.