Frequently Asked Questions
This page contains a list of questions about how Motorway Services Online works.
Before delving into the questions here, you may find that we already have a section dedicated to your query. See if one of these titles suites you:
- Help:Contacting an Operator - for anyone who needs to speak to a service area.
- How Things Work - facts, figures and an introduction to the industry.
- MSO:About - information about us.
- Help:Editing - questions about contributing to this website.
- Help:Operators' Guide - a special guide produced for the benefit of MSA operator representatives only.
You're missing a service area!
Can you add my business?
Motorway Services Online lists every signposted service station in the UK and Ireland. At least we think we do - there is no other list of them so it relies on our members driving the country looking for them!
To be precise, to be included on this website a service station must have what is known in the trade as a Diagram 2313.1 (that's the road sign with symbols on it provided in advance). For Ireland, we look for official signs with the word "services".
We do this because these signs are only provided (assuming the highway authorities have been following the rules) after the service station has signed an agreement to provide a minimum level of facilities. This means they are officially endorsed. It also means our readers will know what to look out for. Finally, it makes a sensible rule to prevent our database becoming an unmanageable list of every petrol station in the country!
For full disclosure, we've also included a couple of additional sites which don't meet that criteria, but we do receive a lot of queries about. We are not normally receptive to requests from businesses which don't meet that criteria, however if we really are missing something our readers will find useful then please let us know.
Can I use your information in my project?
For small projects, yes, but if it's going to be published we ask that appropriate credit or a link is provided. For large commercial contacts, please tell us a little more.
For questions about photos, see Use Of Our Photos.
Is Motorway Services Online up-to-date?
We list a whole load of facts about over 300 service stations. When things change they are usually updated within a few days (sometimes hours); which is faster than some of the operators correct their own websites. Despite every effort we cannot guarantee that every single fact is up to date, especially with some of the smaller services that few of our readers visit. Information is provided in good faith, and the date each page was last updated is displayed at the bottom.
Historical information is not added without a source.
A note for third party websites which are looking to cite Motorway Services Online as a source: most pages on Motorway Services Online are built using user generated content, we don't deny this. However, all user generated content is reviewed on a daily basis, speaking to editors and removing unreliable information. Many of our pages remain static for many months (a precise edited date is provided at the bottom of the page), and in those cases it is safe to assume the content has passed our quality checks.
Do you have any sister sites in other countries?
Motorway Services Online covers the UK and Ireland. Learning the rest of the world's motorway network seems a little too much for now!
A quick online search shows that there are very few websites about foreign service stations, perhaps it's because they're not as infamous as UK ones.
Why do you insist information given is unique?
Why can't I just paste some changes?
If you've ever spent weeks travelling to London and hours reading old documents, you'll realise it's more than irritating when somebody copies everything you spent days typing up, implicitly takes all the credit for it, and on some occasions goes on to make money out of it.
We take a dim view of people who take our contributors' work and don't thank them for it. But we can only take that position if we know the information we hold isn't already available anywhere else. Besides, the vast majority of the time the information we already have is more accurate than what's available elsewhere.
Why are some services filed under the wrong road?
All of our services are filed under the correct road, but in addition, some services are listed under additional routes which aren't strictly accurate but more useful to visitors.
For example, the M74 and A74(M) are officially two totally different roads, but most drivers don't know this, so a search for the M74 will always include results from the often-forgotten A74(M) too. The 'road' listing will always make it clear exactly which road each service area is on.
Likewise, Rownhams is clearly on the M27, but it will also appear on searches for the A31. That's because the A31 has a gap in the middle of it, and seeing as our page already lists both the western half and the eastern half, it makes sense to include the one service area you'll pass when moving between the two. Before anybody asks, we don't do that for more complicated roads like the A38, because trying to explain what happens to that road in the middle will only make things more complicated for drivers who don't care.
Why does the UK take priority over Ireland?
Motorway Services Online uses a single database which is shared by the UK and Irish version of the website, as there are many brands which would otherwise need a page on both.
This causes a problem where some pages (including this FAQ page) need to give different answers to different readers. Where this happens, information regarding the UK is usually displayed first, simply because that section of the website has significantly more readers.
Do the operators visit this website?
Absolutely - over the years we've had correspondence with them over many issues. Some of them may well have been thinking of the phrase is "keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer".
What they don't do is influence what we write about them, or who we recommend.
Why is there a website about motorway services?
Like all good things, it was a joke that went too far. I mean why would you run a website about motorway services?
After writing about them for a while I became increasingly interested in what I was writing, and a huge website was born.
Why are you called Motorway Services Online when it's pretty obvious you are online?
This was a mistake we made when the internet was a more novel experience. It's too late to go back on it now.
How do I use the website?
It depends what you're looking for! If you're looking for information on a particular service station, the 'motorways' tab would be a good place to start - there is a link from there for A-roads.
The 'information' tab may help you, but it contains a lot more detailed information which is generally only of interest to enthusiasts of the industry. The 'website' tab is for those who are interested in the type of information offered and would like to take part.
How do I update something on the site or add a photo?
How do I log in?
Firstly, if you're not already registered, get on with it! Press 'register' under 'login' at the top (desktop) or bottom (mobile). Afterwards log in. Then go to the page you want to update and press edit in the bottom-right (desktop) or bottom-left (mobile).
Why do I keep being logged out?
This is usually caused by a corrupt cookie. The website can occasionally get confused as you browse around, especially if you move between the British (blue) and Irish (green) versions of the website. Open your browser's privacy settings and delete all cookies set by "motorwayservices".
Why was I moved between the British (blue) and the Irish (green) versions of the website?
Although there are two versions of the website for Britain and for Ireland, the two subjects overlap. As a result they share a database.
Sometimes you will be searching for a page on the Irish version and the only result will come from the British version, or vice-versa. If you just browse around the links this shouldn't cause an issue.
Generally speaking, as there are fewer Irish services, all the information will be placed on each service area's page. In the UK, there is often so much information to share that more generic pages, such as Services Which Have Been On TV, are used.
Why was my edit undone?
Whenever you edit a page on this site, you allow others to further edit or remove your work - this is even stated on the edit page. If your edit was completely removed then a reason will be given on the history page (press the 'history' tab on the appropriate page) or on your talk page.
How do I rate a service area?
All the major services have a ratings box on the right-hand side of their page. At first it will tell you what the current (average) rating is in each category; you can then tap the appropriate star to add your opinion.
If you see a red 'x', this means your rating hasn't been processed successfully and it may be worth trying again. If you see a green tick, this means you (or someone with your IP) have already rated (or just rated) that service area on that category.
Why do none of the maps work?
Our maps are provided by a number of third party sources, and passed through a complicated MediaWiki script. Normally pressing 'refresh' will fix any problems loading it. If that doesn't work, let us know - it might be a problem with your browser but if lots of people are having the same problem we'll have to take a look at it.
Tapping on a photo just gives me a blank screen!
We are working on this issue, but it should only happen infrequently. If you refresh the page and try again it should work this time.
Why can't I post a review?
Why do I need a Facebook account?
Not all of our service station or brand pages allow you to write a review, as not all of them generate enough interest. If there is a section there for writing a review, then you should be able to type in the box, then log in to Facebook to post it.
The reason we use Facebook is simply that it was either that or asking everyone to register an account with us first, and most people (we know not all) think that would take too long. It's also a good way of checking people mean what they say by asking them to put their name to it.
If you use a programme called Facebook Container, or something similar, the comments section will not work. This is because Facebook Container stops any other website from accessing Facebook, which normally is a good thing, but we need to access Facebook as that's where the comments are saved. Unfortunately there is no way around this (unless you are confident playing with the URL), except to assure you that all we do with Facebook is log you in, post your comment, update your news feed only if you ask us to and process any 'likes' you leave. People will be able to open your Facebook profile only if your privacy settings allow this.
This is the only feature on the website which requires Facebook.