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Here at The National Map Corps, we have many favorite tips and tricks that we use for editing!  Below are a few of our favorites that we use on a regular basis:


Authoritative Sources
  • When doing research on a structure and comparing various online sources, a key question to ask yourself is “Who created the website containing this information?” The answer to this question will provide insight into whether or not it is authoritative.

Facebook as an Authoritative Source
  • Sometimes a Facebook page serves as an authoritative source.  See Page 6 of our July 2017 Newsletter for an informational graphic on how to recognize official Facebook pages.
"On-the-ground" Views are Pricesless
  • Use a commercial mapping service with “on-the-ground” views to virtually “walk” the street and inspect signage and/or building facades. Doing so will also help indicate which building (or parcel) the point should be centered on.  

  • Here at TNMCorps, we've used these "on-the-ground" views to help identify an assortment of information about structures, including (but not limited to):

    • Vacant Buildings - often times when a structure has relocated and/or ceased operation, the buildings will have signage for real estate brokers in front of the building.  

       Click here for an example of how to identify vacant buildings.

    • Cemetery Names - we frequently "scroll down the street" to catch a glimpse of what cemetery gates may look like to passers-by.  Doing so might shine a light on the cemetery's official name via a plaque posted on the gate's posts.  

       Click here for an example of "scrolling down the street" to verify cemetery names.

    • Fire Stations - Fire stations are easy to spot from their wide driveways, large garage doors, and the occasional flag pole.  If you're lucky, some fire fighting machinery may even be visible!
Moving Points a Long Distance
  • When a structure relocates, we ask users to move the point to the new location, rather than delete and recreate it.  Deleting the point also deletes important information attached to it, such as a GNIS ID. 

  • To move a point long distances, insert a special character in one of the fields as save frequently.  It will result in an error message when saving, but this is intentional.  This will prevent the system from locking you out while the database syncs.

  • See Page 5 of our March 2017 Newsletter for more on Moving vs. Deleting Points.  
Deleting Duplicate Points
  • When a single structure has duplicate points and both of them have a GNIS ID, delete the point with the higher GNIS ID. 
    • e.g. If point A has the ID 12345, and point B has the ID 56789, delete point B. 
    • Not sure what a GNIS ID is?  Click here for more information.

  • If one point has a GNIS ID and the other doesn’t, delete the point with no GNIS ID. If neither point has a GNIS ID, then either one can be deleted.
Schools & Symbols:  Which Type of School Is It?
  • Schools are tricky since there are so many different categories a school can fall into.  A school's category is determined by the grade levels offered at that school.  See our Structures List or our Structures Descriptions Website for more detail about what each category does and does not include.  

  • As a general rule of thumb, if a school's official name contains the words "elementary" or "middle," odds are it falls into that same category.
    • NOTE: it is always a good practice to confirm which grades a school offers.
    • This is easily done by looking at subpages for the school's website.  Good subpages include:
      • academic curriculum
      • student hand-book
      • teacher directory (if the teachers are listed by school and grade...)

  • Private and/or parochial schools are somewhat different from public schools regarding grade levels offered.  Not all, but a majority of parochial school systems combine elementary and middle schools into one entity, rendering it a K-8 (or General) school.
    • Always confirm which grades a school offers, especially with private and/or parochial schools.
    • If a school website does not provide information on grade levels offered, NCES is a good alternative (though school websites are preferred).
    • So when editing schools, a title that indicates it is private or parochial should be a cue to research and confirm that the point's symbol matches the grade levels offered.
    • See our Structures List for which school symbol goes with which grade level combinations.  

       Click here to see an example of a Parochial Schools and how to determine its grade levels offered.

      SCREENSHOT using authoritative sources to confirm school type