Wikitravel:What is a docent?
Greetings, traveller! If you're reading this, you've probably clicked on a link on one of our travel guides, wondering "What is a docent?", "How can I contact a docent?", or "What can a docent do for me?" Here are your answers.
What is a docent?
The dictionary says a docent (say DOUGH-sent) is "a trained volunteer museum guide. A docent is at once a volunteer, a teacher, and a guide." Well, we're not a museum, but that's still a pretty good description of what docents do here on Wikitravel. Docents are volunteers—fellow users of this site—who know a lot about a particular destination. They've volunteered their time and knowledge to help travelers like you who have questions.
How can I contact a docent?
If a destination has a docent who has volunteered to help, you will see his or her username on the left side of your screen, underneath the search box. If you don't see the "Destination Docents" box, then that destination has no docent. If you do see a docent listed, you can click on his or her username and you'll be taken to the docent's User Page. There, the docent should have a clearly-labeled section that lists the destinations he or she is familiar with and explains his or her preferred contact method.
Usually, you can contact a docent by leaving a message on his or her User Talk Page, but some docents may prefer e-mail, or another contact method. You should also be aware that some docents have become inactive and don't check their talk pages as often, or at all. If you don't get a response, don't take it personally; sometimes people move on to other things.
However you contact your docent, remember to always be courteous and patient. Docents are volunteers and can be very busy in what we call "real life"—working, taking care of children, etc. Plan ahead so that the docent has plenty of time to get back to you before your trip.
What can a docent do for me?
We're trying to write travel guides that cover just about any question you might have, but it's a long, slow process. If you have a question—any question at all—about a destination, you can ask a docent. They can tell you the best way to get to an attraction, the best place to get local cuisine, or which areas of a city you should avoid.
Docents are not for hire. They may not even live anywhere near your destination. They won't meet you in person and take you on tours. They're only here to provide you with information and guidance. Keep your expectations in line.
Which locations have docents?
We have an alphabetical list of destinations with docents, though there's no guarantee that a particular docent is still active.
What can I do if my destination has no docent?
You can try asking a question on the article's Talk Page (click on the "discussion" tab at the top of the page); people who have edited the article might see your question and be able to answer it, or tell you where to find an answer.
If you can't get your question answered, take heart. Go ahead and plunge forward and travel to your destination. Find out the answer to your question there. When your trip is over, you can bring that answer back and write it into the destination's article. It's as easy as clicking the "edit" button at the top of the page, and then you'll be a Wikitraveller too!