Geo-IP

Dear Lazyweb, why do Google and friends think I'm not in the United States?

The server that hosts my web sites has the IP 199.48.144.20. It is located in Santa Clara, California. But based on the weird behavior I get when retrieving URLs from there, I infer that Google, Youtube, Myspace and Facebook think it's not in the United States.

I assume this means the IP block is mis-listed in some database somewhere. Who runs that database? Since they all have it wrong, they must have gotten their data from the same place.

I don't even know what country it thinks it's in... But it's not here.

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25 Responses:

  1. Christopher Hylarides says:

    My guess is that it's completely ambiguous to the geo-ip jerks (speaking as a Canadian, they prevent me from doing anything). A whois for your IP returns no address. Do a whois on that address and then a whois on, say, 6.0.0.1, 7.0.0.1, or 8.0.0.1. The difference in output is probably your culprit.

    • nandhp says:

      The whois output is fine:

      DNA Lounge AO-BLK-DNA-2 (NET-199-48-144-16-1) 199.48.144.16 - 199.48.144.31
      Applied Operations, LLC APPLIEDOPS-3 (NET-199-48-144-0-1) 199.48.144.0 - 199.48.147.255

      This just means there's two owners for that IP, one delegated from the other.
      A whois query for NET-199-48-144-16-1 shows the expected result: DNA Lounge, 375 11th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

  2. nce says:

    You can let google know via the contact form linked here

    See also this nanog thread for what a pain it is to correct the various databases. Some suggestions do include whois and DNS records, but its not clear that it helps. The other major Geo-IP providers are mentioned there though so you can start tracking them down to contact.

  3. GeoIP and utrace return sane results for your IP, all located in San Francisco. They even got the organization right : DNA Lounge.
    I assume that these websites use some other way to identify your location, maybe they only take into account IPs from DSL or cable ISPs and not IPs from web servers, proxys or VPNs.

  4. Roger says:

    Wow, you really have been expressive in your DNS records. Checking at centralops domain dossier comes up with San Francisco repeatedly including for your ISP. The DNS registrar is a German company.

    Every GeoIP service I tried did come back with the same San Francisco information, except GeoBytes who place you in Illinois. MaxMind who most people use says San Francisco.

    Also tried a RBL lookup which came back clear so you aren't a suspected spammer either.

    Do be aware that Google behave idiotically when it comes to country stuff. They tend to ignore browser preferences and instead decide they know better what languages you speak. It is enough to take a laptop out of country to have them sticky you as wanting foreign information always. Perhaps someone connected to foreign Google once from your network.

    This is an example of user frustration, with a solution if that is the problem (google.com/ncr). (It has happened to me several times.)

  5. As of this comment, MaxMind and Geo IP Tool are reporting the IP as San Francisco, CA. Don't know of any other look-ups to look at.

    The culprit may be the specific service(s) don't regularly update a locally cached Maxmind DBs. So even when you've done everything right, the service itself is doing it wrong.

  6. JP says:

    Just a stepping stone to having you dealt with as a U.S. citizen terrorist on foreign soil.

  7. aykroyd says:

    akamai, the content delivery network who handles a lot of these sites, also says the machine is in san francisco. what behavior are you seeing?

    • jwz says:

      Right now, connecting to http://www.myspace.com from that machine returns a 302 redirect to http://www.google.com of all places. I don't have examples right now, but I have in the past had Youtube videos that gave me a country error, and I have seen Facebook present some non-English language by default. All for URLs/agents/etc that worked fine from my home machine, but not from this colo machine.

      • nandhp says:

        I've had Facebook briefly use strange languages if I've been visiting a site in that language recently; I think this is a leakage from the omnipresent Like buttons.

  8. russell@Silverback ~: curl "http://api.hostip.info/get_html.php?ip=199.48.144.20&position=true"
    Country: (Unknown Country?) (XX)
    City: (Unknown City?)

    Latitude:
    Longitude:
    IP: 199.48.144.20

  9. Neil Bowers says:

    There are a bunch of free databases "out there", which have patchy coverage. Maybe Google use their data, rather than licensing one of the more accurate / comprehensive data sets?

    You could submit data at http://www.hostip.info, for example.

  10. Ewen McNeill says:

    GeoIP databases (and updating them) have come up at a couple of the conferences I went to recently. The general conclusion is that most major (read: with money) services use databases that originate with the MaxMind database (possibly via various resellers that add their own magic sauce), except for Google who have made their own GeoIP database. Updating both is apparently relatively simple (ie, submit appropriate web form, wait) if you can prove ownership of the netblocks (eg, are the ISP recorded as owning it in the ARIN/RIPE/APNIC databases). But that update is only the source data. You then deal with the fact that virtually everyone is using a cache of that source data (including Google of its own database). And it takes between a few weeks and forever for the updated data to percolate up through the caching layers (including the various resellers) from the changed source data to the data actually used for lookups.

    Of course there are all sorts of websites around without money (or too cheap to pay for the "professional" GeoIP) who use their own sourced data from all sorts of random sources. OTOH it's probably nearly impossible to get all those updated, but OTOH it's less likely to be affecting the sites you're noticing.

    If your IP is in a very old block (eg, from before the ARIN/RIPE/APNIC etc split off from IANA doing address allocation) that no one has ever bothered to go through the hurdles of "GeoLocate Us" with MaxMind and Google (and I understand the two are totally separate databases), then maybe you're just going to get "no data" sorts of results. (Presumably some sites then arbitrarily assume "North America" due to the Internet originating in the USA and more of the old address space being there. Others may just give up.)

    Ewen

  11. Studer says:

    YouTube will tell you where they think you are if you hit http://www.youtube.com/my_speed (may only work if you've watched some videos from that address, though).

    • jwz says:

      Interesting. From my home DSL it shows "Your ISP, SF, CA, USA, Global", but from my web host it just shows "Your ISP, Global".

  12. wkrick says:

    Taking a wild stab in the dark here...

    Is your site set up in Google Webmaster Tools?

    What do you have for: Site Configuration --> Settings --> Geographic Target ?

    • jwz says:

      I was not using it (though I was using Google Analytics) but I set up Webmaster Tools, and "Geographic Target" was already defaulting to "United States".

  13. James C. says:

    The “Ultimate Chrome Flag” extension I have installed says you (www.jwz.org) are in Sweden, and your IP address is 208.83.221.52. Using dig I instead get the expected 199.48.144.22, and that’s what my resolver thinks too. So the problem seems to at least involve something webcachey, and not actually DNS. The results for http://www.dnalounge.com are sane. Having learned that this flag extension is no longer around, I installed a different one. That one gives me a much more reasonable address.

    I have been wondering why you were in Sweden.

    • jwz says:

      Ok... any theories on where the hell it got Sweden from??

      • James C. says:

        Presumably from the IP address which is owned by a Swedish ISP. The real question that I have no answer for is “why the hell does it think you have that random IP address?”. I would guess that some sort of caching proxy seems to be mangling something, perhaps intermittently and only for certain downstream networks. There may be nothing you can do...

      • John Bloom says:

        From a cursory glance at the JS, I'd say: http://ipinfodb.com/
        However, as of now that's returning San Francisco, so I'm tempted to say the GeoIP fail is caused by gremlins.
        Does traceroute (or mtr) to youtube show any interesting results at the same time you're getting weirdness about not being allowed from whatever country you're in? Also, is this from the T1 (do you still have that?) or from something more "consumer" like DSL?

  14. bodgit says:

    Googles GeoIP database can be seriously wrong at times. I had some Canadian IP addreses that most of the Internet put in the right location, a couple of GeoIP websites would put nearby in the US, not the end of the world. Google, and only Google, thought it was in Kenya.

  15. Andre Stechert says:

    If you're using Google's DNS resolver, Akamai gets confused when trying to geolocate you. The obvious Google searches will get you what you need to know.

    • Karl Shea says:

      I'd like to second this. I was using Google's DNS as forwarders at home, and I was getting all sorts of weird results. Removed them and things instantly got better.