Display of the poster's geographical information
Over Christmas (Dec 26th, 2006 to be precise) I experimented a little with extracting geographical information from poster's IP numbers.
UPDATE: (January 10th, 2007)
Yes, I do and have always stored the IP numbers of posters. I think every standard message board software would do that. It makes it a lot easier to administrate the postings, e.g. to move all posts made by a certain person on a certain day to a separate page.
The IP number is stored but never displayed on the site.
The IP number can be used to make a guess where the poster is from. In almost all cases it actually means information on the user's ISP. For example my home IP number is 63.193.xxx.xxx
If you plug this number e.g. 126.96.36.199 - into a web site like http://www.ip2location.com/, then you will find out that I am located in San Francisco, California. This is not exact though. My ISP - SBCYahoo DSL - has a hub there. I live about 70 miles south of San Francisco, in a different county.
My thought was that it would be interesting to see where every poster is writing from. So I downloaded the freely available database "MaxMind - GeoLite Country | Open Source IP Address to Country Database" http://www.maxmind.com/app/geoip_country and added it into this site.
I displayed next to each poster the city, state (region) and country where they seemed to be from, together with a little flag.
I did get an email from an unhappy user, who voiced privacy concerns. I had not realized that in some cases, the database could be fairly accurate - in this person's case it had correctly guessed a small town (where he lives in).
So I removed this functionality again.
What do you users think? Would you find it interesting to see geographic information displayed? I could make it an option - like a checkbox
"Yes, display 'xxx' as my geographic information"
Where xxx would be whatever the database suggests. The default should probably be 'unchecked'.
If I get no replies at all, I will not further spend time on this.
when you post, you can now choose to display city and country, or just the country or hide your geographical information alltogether.