Half-arsed postal-code-derived location info on websites (rant)

The Post-Code (“ZIP”) I live in covers three actual suburbs – and while this is certainly not the norm, neither is it in any sense a freakish one-of-a-kind geobureaucratic calamity.

Tonight, smh.com.au popped up a little (by their standards very unobtrusive) window saying if I wanted more accurate weather info I could enter my postcode. Now, over the years a considerable number of websites have offered to simplify my whole “input where you are” experience with the “just enter your post code” text box. And for a lot of people, it probably is nice and simple. But the experience I had with smh is all too familiar, and tonight I rail against it!

I entered my postcode – 2044 – and after a second or so of AJAXian information transfer, I was asked – yet again – whether that meant Sydenham, St Peters or Tempe.

Really, Fairfax, not only is the weather for adjacent suburbs perceptibly different, but you actually have the separate forecasts for them? Call me cynical, but I don’t think so.

In fact, I can’t think of many times when the specific suburb has actually mattered – obviously when you enter your whole address it does, but for “find your nearest outlet” or various real-estate searches, or a whole host of sites where the actual suburb does not matter in the slightest, the “simple” process of entering 4 digits turns into a frigmarole. I can’t find documentary proof, but I’m sure at least once I’ve gone through this for something that only needed to know what state I was in!

It happens so often I can only assume some code snippet from the intertubes is getting used and reused. And, FFS people, it could use some refinement!

If you want to reuse code snippets, why not ask me to OK a Google geolocation lookup? That will give my location to within about 20m – surely accurate enough for even the most fine-grained weather forecast?

  1. Yes, well, I live in 2611 (Which covers all the suburbs in the township of Western Creek and most of the Brindabellas). It even crosses state borders. It’s quite possible to get different weather throughout the postcode, but yet I still doubt there’s an actual different forecast.

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