The Maptia Community Handbook

Places are made of a thousand stories. Some of them are yours.
Together, we are on a mission to build the most inspirational map in the world.

At Maptia, we believe in creating a remarkable, shared record of our relationships with the places around us. We are gathering a community of people who are relentlessly curious about the world, who love to use maps for storytelling, and who have an innate desire to contribute to something bigger than themselves.

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Getting Started

Welcome to the Maptia community!

We are doing our best to craft Maptia into a beautiful canvas for your creativity, so that you can document and share the places that mean something to you and also those that capture your imagination. This is only version one, so please excuse any hiccups you discover.

1Customise your profile

Once you are logged in to Maptia, you can access your profile at any time from the home menu in the top-left hand corner of the page. Customise your profile by writing a short bio, choosing a profile photo, and adding your location and website.

We are working hard to add more awesome things to your profile, like a personalised map of the world and a place to collect things you find on Maptia that inspire you.

2Create your first story

To create a story use the red ‘create content’ button in the top-right hand corner of the page. Choose a name for your story, write a short description, and choose the place you want the story to be located. If you need some inspiration, take a look at our storytelling guide below or at our featured stories.

3Add beautiful posts to your story

Using the same ‘create content’ button in the top-right hand corner, you can now add posts to your new story. At the moment you can add image or text posts, and soon you will be able to add audio and video posts too. Each post has a location and will display on the unique map for your story.

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Guide To Storytelling

13 tips for telling stories about places.

Just as there an infinite number of ways to experience a place, so there are an infinite number of ways to tell a good story about a place, and being different is a good thing. However, here are a few pieces of advice we have found helpful. Let us know if you have any other suggestions.

Pick a place that means something to you.

Choose a place that means something to you, and you will craft a better story. Your enthusiasm for that place will naturally bring it to life. Consider how the place makes you feel, and think about the significance it holds for you. This is what will make your story unique and inspiring.


Keep it personal.

A personal account will help readers visualise a place through your eyes. By interweaving your own thoughts and feelings with facts, descriptions and observations you will be able to share a perspective on a place that is uniquely your own. Some of the best stories are those that emotionally engage the reader in a personal journey from the beginning - they often tell a story about the writer’s life that transcends or complements the place where the story is set. Good writing also sounds natural and has personality - it should sound like you, so avoid writing things you wouldn’t say in person. Be yourself.


Be original.

When writing about a place you should do your best to portray it from a unique perspective. A place is much more than its physical location - it is made up of many things, including culture and language, values, beliefs and traditions, customs and cuisine, and way of life. Revealing a new or unexpected side to a place will give your story a depth and richness that you wouldn’t find in a description of a visit to the touristy cafe in the main square. Do your best to tell the story of your own unique experience in a place and avoid clichés - try to come up with original descriptions that mean something to you.


Write vividly.

Your aim is to bring the setting of your story to life and evoke a real sense of place. Photographs are a wonderful way to do this, but colourful, descriptive pieces of writing are just as good. Think about your sensory impressions - the sights, sounds and smells you experienced. Remember your readers probably haven’t been to the place you are describing, so try to include plenty of visual description. However, there is a fine line between painting a rich, colourful 'word picture' so that the reader 'sees' exactly what you are describing versus simply using an excess of elaborate or fancy words to sound clever or more formal. Do your best to describe things simply as they are, in a genuine and honest way, and resist the desire to over-romanticise the setting or the experience.


Focus on the details.

When writing about a place, use as many details as you can. Imagine you are describing the place to someone who can’t see. Telling them something is ‘beautiful’ isn’t enough, you need to explain what makes it so. Use specific, concrete details to paint an evocative picture of the place in the reader’s mind, so that they are swept up on a journey through the place you are describing.


Choose photographs that tell a story.

The best stories usually have a good mix of the visual and the written word, though of course there are also many brilliant pieces of writing that stand alone without accompanying photos and vice versa. In the simplest of terms, a storytelling photograph must show what the story is about. Most stories on Maptia will have a ‘leading’ photo as a full-width header. It is usually a particularly striking photo that has a broader angle and captures a number of elements of the story, thus showing the reader the environment in which the story takes place. It grabs their attention and sets the scene. If the story contains multiple photos, it is best for them to be a mix of angles. Mid-distance shots usually capture relationships and show how things interact, while close-up shots often contain lots of detail and capture the heart of the story. Adding captions for each and every one of your photographs will bring them to life for the reader.


Use different vantage points.

As you would with your photographs, vary the focus of your writing and the pace of your story by using different vantage points. Imagine you are taking wide shots when you are describing the setting and landscape, middle-range shots for the context and colour, and close-ups for the detail and narrative. Switching between these different views will help you bring the story to life through your writing.


Write a colourful description to introduce your story.

A good description will grab the reader’s attention and make them want to read on. You could introduce the general feeling, tone, and point of the story, or perhaps give them a little background about the place where your story is set and what is special about it. Starting with a strong, but brief, anecdote can also be a good way to draw someone in. Remember, on Maptia, this is also the part that will display before someone opens your story, so it needs to be engaging enough for them to want to read more.


Show, not tell.

Wherever possible, try to show, not tell. For instance, if you visit a remote village where the women have to walk for miles each day to fetch clean water, find a creative way to vividly describe the scene around you - enable the reader to ‘see’ what you saw, rather than directly describing the sadness and hardship of the situation. This way, rather than telling the reader what to think, you allow them to empathise with the situation and to link their own emotions to the story. This will also give them the chance to feel as if they are discovering the place for the first time - through their own eyes. A nice touch can also be to include quotes from people you meet. Giving locals a voice can really bring a place to life, and again you are showing, not telling.


Go the extra mile.

Remember to check your grammar, spelling and punctuation - it might sound boring, but it will have a big effect on how a reader experiences your story. You can also try to vary the lengths of your sentences by splitting up long, descriptive phrases with shorter, more punchy ones. Using literary devices, such as metaphors, personification and similes, will add depth and colour to your story, but beware of over-use. You should also try to avoid unnecessary exclamation marks or punctuation. Finally, it’s good to work in some interesting nuggets of information about a place, but make sure to check your facts.


Be selective.

Include only your best photos and read through your written posts carefully before you publish them. Ask yourself if there are any parts you can take away or how you can make it stronger but shorter. Less is usually more when it comes to writing, and being economical, ie. not wasting words on sentences that could be condensed, will improve the overall style and readability of your writing. Your story also needs to have an overall flow, but you do not need to share everything, nor does it have to be in chronological order. Cherry-pick the best parts of an experience or the most interesting, unique anecdotes from your time in a particular place, and build your narrative around those.


Read other people’s stories.

Read other people’s stories or pieces of writing to get a feel for what’s out there and what makes good writing. Pay attention to the parts of the story that seem most vivid to you and notice how they have structured the flow of the story. Think about how you could emulate some of their techniques in your own story. Most of all, let them inspire you.


Enjoy the process.

Through the process of crafting your story into something beautiful to share with the world, you’ll most likely discover that you are re-living some of your most treasured experiences, that you are learning more about yourself and your relationship with different places, and that once again you have fallen in love with the world around you.

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Community Guidelines

A few rules of thumb.

We are really excited to grow the Maptia community all over the world, from tiny villages tucked away in the mountains to the world’s biggest and most vibrant cities. We hope that you will all tell your story, so that we can learn about the world from each other. Check out our manifesto here.

Be Genuine.

Do your best to contribute meaningful and authentic content that expresses who you really are and what different places mean to you. Always be yourself.


Be respectful.

We are a global community of people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Feel free to be curious, but please be kind and respectful.


Focus on quality.

As part of the Maptia community you are also part of our mission to build the most inspirational map in the world. Remember that all of the content you add to Maptia is also part of this collaborative project. Do your best to contribute high quality, interesting posts that do justice to your personal perspective on a place, and make sure that they are something you yourself would hope to discover.


Give credit.

Remember to credit to the original author if you are re-posting someone else’s content and, wherever possible, link back to their blog or website. If you find a post that hasn’t been properly credited, help out by sending a polite message to the person who posted it.


Be on the lookout.

Maptia is for people of all ages. If you ever find hateful or inappropriate posts, please make sure to let us know by sending an email to report@maptia.com.


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FAQs

Things you might be curious about.

Learn more about the basic building blocks of Maptia, the team behind the vision, a few of our plans for the future, and much more besides. And if you still have questions after perusing the answers below, then don't hesitate to send us an email. We would love to hear from you!

What is a post?

A post is an image or piece of text that is added to Maptia and each post needs to have a location. It’s easier for other people to discover a post when you give it an accurate location. Don’t worry if you don’t know the exact location, it’s also ok to use something less accurate like the name of a city or a region.


What is a story?

A story is a set of posts that shares your unique experience of a place, from the street you live on to a far flung place you have travelled. It could be anything from a single, fleeting moment captured through the lens of your camera to the epic tale of a six month cross-continental journey.


How does 'Explore' work?

‘Explore’ is a map for browsing or searching posts anywhere in the world. You can filter the map to see the most popular or the newest posts in any location. Scrolling down will show you stories from the region of the map you are viewing.


Can I invite other people to contribute to my stories?

Not just yet, but it is something you will be able to do soon. We are really looking forward to when people can share in the creative process and build stories together.


Can I make any of my posts or stories private?

Not right now. Maptia is designed for sharing the places around us and together we are creating a beautiful, collaborative map of the whole world. With this in mind, all content added to Maptia is currently public by default.


Can I follow people or places?

Not just yet, but it is something you will be able to do soon. In the future, when you follow a person or a place, posts and stories from that person or place will be featured on your Home page. Being able to follow places on Maptia is something we are really excited about.


Why can’t everyone use Maptia at the moment?

This is only the first version of Maptia and there are many things we are improving or that aren’t quite ready yet. Because of this, there are currently a limited number of invites and only a small number of people are able to use Maptia. Using the feedback they give us, we are working as hard as we can to get Maptia ready for everyone else to use.


Can I invite my friends to use Maptia?

If you are already using Maptia and have a friend who you think would contribute particularly great content to Maptia, then we would love to hear about them. Just send us an email and we will do our best to send them a Maptia invite as soon as possible.


I really, really can’t wait any longer to use Maptia! Can you send me an invite now?

If you are literally jumping up and down with excitement at the thought of creating beautiful stories, or are about to leave on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and would like to use Maptia to share your journey, then send us an email and we will do our best to send you a Maptia invite as soon as possible.


Are you going to make an iPhone, Android or iPad app?

Yes, absolutely, just not quite yet. We are taking things one step at a time and want to start out by building a great website. In the future, we want to work closely with our founding community to decide on the most important features for the Maptia mobile and tablet apps.


I found something that isn’t working properly, who should I tell?

When you are logged into Maptia you can use the ‘Feedback’ option in the home menu to send us a message at any time. You can also send us an email here. If you take a screenshot of the problem and tell us which web browser you are using, it often helps us to resolve the problem faster.


How will Maptia make money?

Right now, Maptia doesn’t make any money and we don’t intend to focus on this in the near future. At the moment, our mission is simply to provide you with an easy and beautiful way to create and share stories from all over the world.

In the future, so that we have enough resources to keep growing and improving Maptia, we will experiment with a several ways to make money. One of our favourite ideas so far is to add a more practical (but still beautiful) layer to our Explore map view. A layer that would help you find useful information about places or experiences you discover on Maptia. For instance, the best time of year to see the Northern Lights in Norway or the best places to go skydiving in South Africa. Much of this information or local knowledge would be contributed by the people in our community, but we would also partner with inspiring individuals or companies, those who understand and believe in our mission, to help provide you with the highest quality information and resources.

Maptia is not just about sharing and recording the places you have been to, or dreaming of the places you would love to go, it is about actually getting out there and seeing the world. Please refer to our Maptia Manifesto for more details! We think that adding a layer of practical information to our ‘Explore’ map could be a brilliant way to help you do this.

For now these are just ideas. We promise to always seek feedback from our community before adding any big features and we will never compromise Maptia’s authenticity or aesthetics to make money.

In the meantime, in case you are wondering how we support ourselves, we are fortunate enough to have been part of both Start-Up Chile and TechStars, and through these amazing programs we have received enough funding to get started.


Who are the team behind Maptia?

The three co-founders at Maptia met while studying at university in the north of England, in a beautiful little city called Durham. Our shared passion for backpacking and for cartography gave us the idea of building a huge, collaborative global map for travellers - one that would celebrate all the awesome places on the planet, be a beautiful way to tell stories about places, and would encourage and enable people everywhere to get out there and see the world.

Dorothy is our CEO and designer, Dean is our lead developer (also a singer-songwriter), and Jonny does the marketing and community (also a surfer). This summer we had a great friend join us to give a hand with back-end development and we have also had an awesome intern with us for six months. Everyone on the team is down-to-earth, loves travelling, appreciates good design, is hungry to learn more about the world, and is definitely map-obsessed. Most importantly, we all believe in Maptia’s mission. Read more here.

Are you looking for people to join your team?

Yes, absolutely. We are currently looking for a few very unique people to join us as we pursue our vision for Maptia. We are looking for people who love travel, who care about building beautiful, lasting products, who are talented, eager to learn, and always motivated to go the extra mile, who sweat the details, who want to stay as far away from a conventional desk job as possible, and as cliche as it sounds, who want to make a difference to the world.

In the next couple of months, we are looking particularly for someone with back-end development experience and also for an intern or two. If you’re interested and think that you might like to join us as we traverse the globe (we have already worked on Maptia in England, Chile, Seattle, and Morocco) then send us an email at hello@maptia.com and we will be more than happy to have a chat with you.

The End.