In recent days a family in the Dutch town of Dronten became news as they shared how they have been the target of harrassment and threats for years, because the geo coordinates of their house happen to be near to the geographic midpoint of the country. People trying to trace the location of an IP address often get referred to that midpoint when there is no actual location known. This likely happens because services that provide location services for IP addresses use software that can’t handle unknown locations, so the midpoint of a country is entered as default. With detrimental consequences for whoever happens to live at that midpoint.
Years ago the Washington Post had a story of a house in Kansas that in a similar way was provided as the location for some 600 million IP addresses. The probability of someone being pissed of enough at someone running one of those IP addresses to send them a piece of their mind in the mail is 100%.
It also reminds me of an anecdotal story (I can’t find an online reference) I heard when shopping for a CRM system for my then employer some 20 years ago. CRM systems were gaining in uptake, and they of course have fields for zip codes. Many systems made adding zip codes to addresses mandatory, because of course if you want to send someone mail, you need the zip code. At the same time many contact records that get entered into these systems are incomplete, just a name with a phone number and company name etc. So what happens if the zip code is mandatory? Most people it turned out would type 9999 ZZ. That is a postcode allocated to Stitswerd, population 45, in the very north of the Netherlands where the nearest post office started receiving suspicious mountains of mail. The postcode 9999 ZZ isn’t actually used with an address (this Dutch article describes how the author went to have a look, with photos), it’s allocated to a road through the fields that has no houses. So in the end the Dutch mail sorting centers started sorting 9999 ZZ out, to prevent Sitswerd becoming the dumping ground of every unsollicited piece of direct mail in the country.
Lazy coding and design choices can wreak havoc.