The state I’m in

October 18, 2011

I live in Western Australia and our state’s official abbreviation is ‘WA’, which also happens to be the official abbreviation for the state of Washington in the US.

In times gone by, I have received mail from another country that’s gone via Washington state before being redirected by some clever person at the US Postal Service who realized that ‘Perth, WA’ was in Australia, not the US.

As a result, I always write out ‘Western Australia’ in full (where I can) whenever I’m buying online or dealing with someone who will mail me something. I can’t trust a computer database, computer sorting robot, or the postal service people to differentiate between WA for Western Australia or WA for Washington state, even though US postal codes are five digits (or more if they use the extra 4-digit exact location identifier) and Australian postal codes are only four digits.

So I got a bit of a surprise when I was completing an online form recently and saw that the cities and towns for Western Australia and Washington state were displayed even though I’d narrowed my location by country and state.

Choose the country, choose the state

Choose the country, choose the state

But where did those cities come from?

But where did those cities come from? Port Angeles and Puyallup are in the US!

Someone wrote a program that didn’t include a validation check to ensure that only the cities for the state chosen for a particular country were displayed — it looks as though the code finds any instance of WA and displays the cities associated with that state code and totally ignores the country code. Which then begs the question, why bother forcing the user to select a country at all if the city results are going to display whatever is associated with the state code?

[Links last checked October 2011]

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