GEO Tagging ability for topics

Sometimes a discussion might occur where it’s important to know the ‘where’ of the discussion context. For example, if discussing ‘illegal waste dumping’ having context as to which municipality this is happening in would be very useful. This may also encourage people for form physical community (not just virutal community) by realizing that they are involved in a discussion where context is near to them.

Perhaps the tagging plugin can be leveraged for this but it would be really nice to have the option for a user to indicate which geographical areas they are interested in or live in, in order to highlight topics physicially near to them, and also to tag topics with locations that can be searched on. MySQL has nice GIS features that could be leveraged for this.

What do you guys think?


Why not just post a link to Google Maps?,+Westwood,+CA+96137/@40.2984093,-121.059859,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x809d72c7837a2c13:0xbe603029058f8529,+Westwood,+CA+96137/@40.2984093,-121.059859,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x809d72c7837a2c13:0xbe603029058f8529

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The context would be there with the link so that would be a start. It’s nice that it shows so well in discourse. We wouldn’t be able to search for topics being discussed within 100kms of location X though. I am envisioning our discussion site where users can say “notify me of new topics in the area of my municipality” or find topics near me, and stuff like that. Adding geography to discussion would be quite a differentiator.

I’m looking at using Discourse for a geographical community and it would be useful to display a map of locations that have related topics, or find all topics about a particular location.


You could probably do something like that in a plugin, not something core is likely to add any time in the near future.

Anyway, best way to get started is graphic mockups of how you wish this would work, it gives someone out there a fighting chance of implementing.

I agree that this feels more like a plugin than core functionality. It’s probably not going to be useful to most sites, and plugin developer’s likely to be more responsive to sites that are using it.

We are looking at building geo tagging posts as a plugin.

The use case for us is that since we’re working with real estate information, the topics created in our instance could have many different replies based on location. We could ask our community members to include a location in the body whenever they create a new topic (“my question relates to Springfield”), but this is cumbersome, highly non-systematic, and will lead to very similar topics/questions being asked numerous times. This will also quickly make for messy searching down the road.

We would prefer to have multiple possible valid responses to a single topic, and allow the responders to choose what location their post applies to, although in our case we won’t make location data required. This also won’t prevent somebody from creating a topic with a very specific geographic focus, and that’s fine.

The most flexible approach I can think of is to have post authors enter a location and then drop a pin on a Google map. The pin coordinates are stored as additional post data, and then the topics and posts content can be rounded up into all kinds of somewhat arbitrary geographic containers. In real estate, people get very creative about what they call a location - state/province, city, unofficial neighborhood, etc. So coordinates seem like a more versatile location definition point.

Our ultimate goal is to be able to offer feeds based on geographic areas.

Let me know if you’re interested.


I’m interested. I’m not sure how locations should be entered. Some thoughts:

  • Automatic recognition of addresses in text would be ideal, I think, if it’s practical.

  • Automatic recognition of geographic keywords (cities, neighborhoods, businesses) from a list maintained by an admin. That would be great for some sites (like mine) and impractical for everyone else.

  • Fielded entry of addresses or lat/long pairs is the least flexible, but the easiest to implement & maintain. It would result in fewer defined locations than automatic recognition and would mean that each entry would have location fields that might be left empty in most posts.

Thanks for getting this started Barry. I’m not sure which addresses you are talking about in the first bullet point. Would that be the users address? If so, that would be a good idea to find the location of users but I’m not sure how many people would want to divulge that publicly and this topic is for the geo tagging of topics. Perhaps another topic for geo tagging peoples locations would be in order (which which be a cool feature as well).

Maintaining a list of cities, municipalities, political regions, etc. would be very difficult to maintain for an administrator so I think long/lats would be the best way to go but perhaps there’s a hybrid approach that could be used. Here’s what I’m thinking.

While creating a topic (or editing an existing one), an image or link can be clicked which would open up a google maps popup where the user can select a lat/long location. But can also select a radius of X kms/miles. For example, if my topic is about illegal dumping in a forest in my area, the pin would be in the center of the forest and the radius perhaps 5 or 10 kms.

In addition to the lat/long, the tagging plugin can be used to enter “Sherwood Forest municipality of Tache in Manitoba”. This would require an enhancement to the tagging plugin as currently it doesn’t allow blanks so makes it difficult to enter multiple tags at once.

The goal of this feature is for a user to be able to find topics of geographical interest or proximity to them. There would be 2 way to accomplish this.

  • Geo search

In the search area, an option would exist to do a geographical search. This would open a dialog pretty much exactly the same as the one to input long/lats and radius. The search would then find any topics that have a geo location that overlaps the entered geo location. So if I’m a user looking for issues going on in my neighbourhood or nearby forest, or in my mothers county, I can find them. The Progress database engine that Discourse using has the ability to store and search on coordinates so leveraging that would make this feature quite feasible.

  • Tag search

If tags were entered to enrich the geo locations, then I could view the Tags page from the plugin and do a browser text search for “Tache” and find the topics that refer to that tag. This would be a baby step though because it’s not user friendly, nor intuitive for most users. Ideally, the tagging plugin would be enhanced to tie into the regular text search mechanism.

Taking all this a bit further would be the ability to be notified when a topic is created within X kms/miles from my defined location of interest. That would be sweeeet :slight_smile:


I am also very interested in this as mentioned in my post. It is definitely needed. At the very least a stable plugin to enable this feature.

I like this suggestion Rob and it would certainly be great if something like this could be built. Another thought I had is that while the tag plug-in as it stands today doesn’t quite work for this, with a few changes it could be pretty close.

Here’s what I’d like to see from the tag plug-in:

  1. Allow tags to contain any character including spaces and commas.
  2. Allow searching of tags
  • Over time the tags page can get busy
  • Not everyone wants to ‘browse’ a site if they are looking for something more specific and search is more natural for that.
  1. Allow filtering, browsing and/or searching by multiple tags at the time (i.e. ‘this tag’ AND ‘that tag’)

Having a true geo-tagging plug-in is still probably best as it would be more accurate and fit for purpose, but with these features in place we’d have most of our use cases covered. Also, I think each of them provides a lot of value even outside of geo-tagging.

The changes you suggest Joel would be a great step in the right direction. What do you think @sam?

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Hi all. I am very much interested in having a GEO tagging feature. Specifically, I would like to have a map in a discussion where people can tag locations by searching/clicking on the map.

Also it will be very nice to have a map based search and also display facility; i.e. if someone searches for a term (using an example used by @returningfromelba) as “illegal waste dumping” the result would be a map with location pins.

I see that topic has been inactive for a while. Anyone managed to get this plug-in? If not maybe we can pull our resources ans get it implemented on the marketplace?

Thanks a lot.

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