If you had plans to travel to Visoki Decani monastery with the help of Google Maps – you won’t be reaching your destination. The monastery’s marker on Google Maps has been moved once again, which is why the application will now lead you to the roundabout in Decani, a few kilometers from the monastery.
The marker of the Visoki Decani monastery, which is part of the UNESCO list of cultural heritage, on Google Maps has been moved several times in the past, which is why numerous visitors who used the app had trouble finding the exact location of the monastery.
In July 2016, the monastery was temporarily marked as a hotel „Kalaja e Decanit“ on Google Maps.
At the time, together with the monastery’s marker, many photos of the site were temporarily removed.
The monastery of Visoki Decani was also „moved“ to a non-existent location in the vicinity of Leskovac, 200 km east of Decani.
The IT team in charge of the Google account of the Visoki Decani monastery told KoSSev that such situations may have occurred in the past after a large number of users reported that the monastery’s location was incorrectly marked.
After the monastery reacted, Google sent them verification to their home address. After they confirmed the location, the monastery’s marker on Google Maps was fixed. Google also apologized and assured the monastery that additional protection algorithms were added so that similar problems would be avoided in the future.
However, new issues emerged in the meantime.
If you were to search for the monastery Visoki Decani on the Google map, you would see that the location has been moved to a roundabout in Decani and that there is a question mark next to it.
„This happens because the location has been verified, the pin cannot be moved much, i.e. it has been moved by the maximum distance allowed by the system,” the IT team told KoSSev.
Visoki Decani: Someone would like to erase the monastery from the map
In the meantime, the monastery of Visoki Decani reacted, alleging that someone „desires to erase the monastery from the map.“
„It is clear to any connoisseur of IT technologies that this is not an accidental mistake, but an open provocation. And it is not hard to guess who is standing behind it and what is the purpose of this,“ they said in a statement.
They stressed that visitors have a hard time finding their way to this medieval monument because local authorities „persistently refuse to install adequate signs about one of the most important historical sites in Kosovo, which is also under UNESCO protection.“
„Visitors often wander into the side streets and the only real sign is situated right next to the monastery, where it is guarded by KFOR forces. This all speaks about the attitude of the local authorities towards the monastery,“ they say.
„Visoki Decani Monastery not only faces continued pressure from authorities in Pristina and persistent efforts to change the monastery’s history, efforts to erase it from the map, not to mention four armed attacks by local Albanian extremists,“ the monastery underlined.
They added that all this speaks of the level of endangerment of the monastery, but also the entire heritage of the SOC in Kosovo. The monastery, they emphasized, must be fully protected „from those who would like to change history and prevent normal life of this shrine that has existed for seven centuries.“
In their words, users might have once again reported that the monastery was listed in the wrong location – to which Google does not know how to react, which was why it either removes the monastery from the map or adds a question mark.
They add that for this to happen – a large number of Google users would have to report that the monastery is in the wrong location.
„It’s a bit peculiar that in order to achieve this, plenty of reports is needed, from ‘strong’ Google accounts. It is astonishing that anyone would organize this and waste so much time. Someone had to organize a larger group of people or Google accounts to file reports,“ said the team in charge of the Google account of the monastery.
They say that „this was clearly intended to misinform users about the exact location of the monastery,“ while expressing hope that they will have no problem in fixing the monastery’s marker on Google maps.
What is the solution?
Vladimir Vuckovic, one of the founders of the IT company „W3Lab“ in North Mitrovica, explained to KoSSev how the location marker can be moved on Google Maps, but also what could be the solution to this problem of the monastery Visoki Decani.
„Google Maps is designed as a project where everyone in the world has the opportunity to participate in helping others reach their desired location on planet Earth by adding specific locations (pins) to the map or proposing changes to existing ones. For example, if we notice that an address is in the wrong location, we suggest a change (move the pin to the correct location), someone from Google reviews our proposal (usually the process takes 2-3 days), approves it and the pin is displayed in the correct location,” stated Vuckovic, adding that some individuals abuse Google Maps:
„They place pins in the wrong locations on purpose, for various reasons. That is exactly what happened with the location of the Decani monastery.“
Vuckovic proposes a solution – so that this problem is avoided in the future:
„We should write to Google support and inform them about the problem and prevent further abuse. We can do this through the Google Maps Help forum. After that, we need to create a Google My Business profile for the monastery, and the owner of the profile would become the only real owner of that location on the map.“
Doing so, Vuckovic adds, would prevent others from moving the pin on the map.
„This happened to the Decani monastery today, but tomorrow it can happen with other locations as well,“ Vuckovic concludes.
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