So maybe we have been doing it all wrong, maybe in a lot of cases we should be sticking a pin in the map and not endlessly deliberating over what to call it? Rootsmagic would firstly have to facilitate direct geocoding from an embedded map and also provide the option to enable reverse geocoding but the pin in the map in the most accurate definition of where the event took place and could be refined as information is uncovered.
I had been meaning for a long time to get back to this message, and never got around to it.
The context is that it is very difficult to interchange genealogical data about place names. One issue is simply "genealogical standards" writ large. For example, do you call the country of which I am a citizen the United States of America (official name), United States, America, USA, U.S.A., US, U.S., etc. Different large and influential web sites do it differently. Various influential experts recommend differently. And that doesn't even get into support for multiple languages. One well known and influential language calls my country États Unis, and the examples abound. Germany is Deutchland and Tyskland and Allemagne and many other names depending on the language you are using.
And time frames are important. One of my families that I research mostly heavily immigrated from Germany, but should I call it Germany or should I call it Bavaria since there was no Germany at the time of their immigration in the 1700's? Some experts say to record the place name as of the time of the event so you can find the records and other experts say to record the modern place name so it can be geocoded.
What I have been musing about for several years has been the need for some sort of numeric coding of Place Names for data interchange and that Germany and Deutchland and Tyskland and Allemagne would all use the same numeric code that would be rendered by software into the appropriate language for the user. The user should never have to see or know about the numeric code that's behind the scenes. And separating out the behind the scenes coding of place names and the way place names are interchanged on the one hand from the way place names appear in reports on the other hand might quell this constant debate about how best to enter place names.
I suppose that begs the question of what the numeric code would be for Bavaria since there is not a one-to-one correspondence between the concept of "Bavaria" and.the concept of "Germany". And indeed, all kinds of borders and all kinds of Place Names change all the time. Be that as it may, I think the numeric coding for data storage and data interchange would be a step in the right direction.
I think that Vyger is proposing something similar to my numeric codes except that the "unique number" that would be used behind the scenes for country codes (and I suppose for for state codes and county codes and city codes and codes for any other kind of place) would be a latitude/longitude coordinate, i.e, a pin on a map. I guess I have a hard time seeing how that would work. For one thing, where would the pin go for the United States of America? A logical place might be somewhere in Kansas since it's sort of in the middle (well, it's in the middle if you ignore Alaska and Hawaii). Another logical place might be Washington, D.C. because it's the capital. If standards were to go this route, I think instead of a pin there would have to be a GPS polygon outlining the place. But the GPS polygon would have to vary in time.
The "vary in time" problem seems to wreak havoc with almost any system that otherwise seems reasonable. Here's an example. A big focus of my research is Rockingham County, Virginia. Many of my ancestral lines lived there for a generation or two in the 1700's before moving to Tennessee in the late 1700's or sometimes in the early 1800's. I'm used to searching records for my ancestors in Augusta County, Virginia before 1778 because Augusta County was split to form Rockingham County in 1778. But I recently found an important deed for my ancestors in Rockingham County that was registered in Orange County, Virginia in 1749. That seems very strange when you consider that Augusta County was formed from Orange County in 1738 and that therefore a deed in what is now Rockingham County should have been registered in Augusta County in 1749. But Augusta County was not really organized until 1745 and many deeds continued to be registered in Orange County for several years after that. I have managed to create an accurate GPS polygon for this deed which I can feed to Google Maps and place the parcel of land correctly in modern day Rockingham County. So why would I want a pin for Orange County to be associated with this deed?