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Talk:Niagara Falls (New York)

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This article was the Collaboration of the month for February 2011.


External link[edit]

In this edit, the external link for Niagara Falls State Park was changed to the New York state park web page instead of the official site created by the operator of the park's amenities because the latter is "a commercial site". Yes, it's a commercial operation, but they're the official operators of the park's visitor center and its retail and restaurant locations. It's also a much more useful site than the state park page.

Thoughts on how our external links policy informs the decision between these two sites?

-- LtPowers 20:13, 28 July 2011 (EDT)

I would tend to favor the state park site - if the listing was for a hotel or restaurant within the park then the web site for the business's operator would make more sense, but since the link is for the park itself then the official state park link seems to be the appropriate choice. As to being a more "useful" link, per the external links policy that shouldn't be a major factor in determining what to link to since one of the stated goals of that policy is to encourage contribution of information to Wikitravel rather than links to other sites ("this is an incentive issue; if we have lots of links to other travel guides, we lose the impetus to create our own"). -- Ryan • (talk) • 20:31, 28 July 2011 (EDT)
Well, yes, but the sort of information that is useful, the whole reason we allow external links at all, is found on the commercial site rather than on the state page. It is an official web site, and so does not run afoul of policy in that respect. LtPowers 22:24, 28 July 2011 (EDT)
I unfortunately agree with Ryan to a certain extent. Once we start an evaluative process of what is the most "useful", rather than the - stricter - most "official", things can get harder to determine. In this case, the NY parks site features the commercial site link quite prominently, so I'm not sure it merits an exception to ensure the traveller gets to the site they want. That said, I can see the other side of this, don't have too strong an opinion on it. --inas 23:38, 17 October 2011 (EDT)
I don't see the point in making the user click twice to get "to the site they want". LtPowers 08:35, 18 October 2011 (EDT)
The issue here as I see it is that extlinks are a hassle to manage, and have the potential to detract from the guide. Therefore having a easy to interpret extlinks policy is necessary. I agree in this case the policy gives the wrong result. The question is whether it is worth broadening the scope of potential extlinks to make it give the right result. The positive side is the traveler gets to the useful info with less clicks. The negative is that we may have to arbitrate usefulness of links, rather than just their status as the most official link. When I weigh those to things up, I come down on the side of the sticking to the most official link, particular as the traveller isn't much inconvenienced here. However, I can see the line of reasoning which leads clearly to the opposite result. --inas 18:50, 18 October 2011 (EDT)
To me, if we have to balance the traveler's needs with our needs, the traveller comes first. LtPowers 22:06, 18 October 2011 (EDT)
I'm with Inas on this one - our external links policy is far from perfect, but it's better than any alternative that has been proposed, and I don't see any obvious reason for an exception in this case. As to invoking the "traveler comes first" policy, unfortunately I don't see that travelers are in any way being done a disservice in this case - and if they were in this case, in what case would any external link ever be excluded since you could always make the argument that an external link might be useful? -- Ryan • (talk) • 22:41, 18 October 2011 (EDT)
Replacing one link with another is not exactly a step down that slippery slope. We're not talking about adding links willy-nilly all over the article; we're just talking about which official link is better. That's an editorial judgement we can and should make. The state website is practically useless, while the commercial site offers all of the information we typically like to see in an external link. Both are official; neither one is a fan site, or a blog, or run by a consortium of businesses looking to advertise. Those are the kind of links the policy prohibits, not ones that happen to be commercial. LtPowers 08:35, 19 October 2011 (EDT)
But when we are dealing with business owners and vested interests in enforcing our xl policy on a regular basis, then what you refer to so positively as "editorial judgement", can quickly become ugly when we have disputes with vested interests over links without a consistent and firm policy basis to fall back on.
If you can frame a policy clarification which leaves what links to include as unambiguous - i.e something like "when an official concession or operating contract has been given over the entire area or attraction to a third party organisation, we may additionally link to the concessionaire", I'd be inclined to support it. It isn't the link that I'm concerned about, so much as opening holes in xl for less scrupulous editors to take advantage of.
I guess in reality we already do this in cases like operating leases over airports. --Inas 17:10, 10 November 2011 (EST)
I guess I don't understand the concern here. What kind of "bad" external links are we expecting to proliferate if this page links to the official operator of the park's amenities? Our "consistent and firm policy basis" is we allow a link to the official web site for a particular listing. In this case, there are two official web sites, with a very basic one focused on the park as a component of the state's park system, and a more comprehensive one focused on the tourist and visitor amenities available. One is not "more official" than the other just because one of them is operated by a commercial venture; they are both "official". Is this a common situation where we have official concessionaires and operators trying to spam their links on Wikitravel? LtPowers 21:48, 10 November 2011 (EST)
No it isn't, and commercial nature or otherwise isn't a concern. My simple concern is if we have two potential links, that we may be introducing a "most useful", criteria as opposed to the "most official" criteria that I think our policy implies now. "Most useful" greases that slope. If we can limit this specifically to situation of concessions and operators, I'm sure there is a good solution there. --Inas 22:00, 10 November 2011 (EST)
I think we already make a similar distinction, don't we? Wikitravel:External links says "If the destination has both an official visitor's guide and a general government site, include only the visitor guide." I think the state park web site versus the local handler of the tourism facilities is a similar distinction. LtPowers 16:17, 11 November 2011 (EST)
Really? I thought that was to guide us clearly towards the government tourism body site, rather than the one where you might go to pay your taxes. I don't think it is applicable at all here. I don't think it was meant to offer guidance between two visitor oriented sites, one government and one not. --Inas 20:36, 11 November 2011 (EST)
No, if I thought it was directly applicable, I would have cited it sooner. I'm suggesting it's analogous; we already introduce an additional criterion beyond "most official". At the national and state levels, certainly the official tourism site is a production of the government, but at lower levels like county and city, often it's a Chamber of Commerce or a non-profit organization that maintains the official tourism site. (See, for example, the link that leads off Rochester (New York), which goes to http://visitrochester.com, which is run by the Greater Rochester Visitors Association, not the City of Rochester.) So given that we already have a provision in our external links policy that allows for non-government links to be included, I don't understand why it's such an issue to include a non-government link for the Niagara Falls State Park. LtPowers 11:18, 12 November 2011 (EST)

Hmmmm.. It's clear that policy is there to make us link to discoveramerica.com, and not usa.gov. I think our current practice and policy would see us remove a chamber of commerce run link over an official city run tourist link. If we want to include a link to an official concessionaire over a park or attraction, lets just say that, rather than trying to shoehorn something which I think has a different intention. --Inas 19:20, 12 November 2011 (EST)

Inas's comments match my own opinions - unless a change is made to the external links policy, let's stick with the site that is obviously the official Niagara Falls site, rather than the site for the concessionaire. In cases where there is not a clear "official" link then some editorial judgment might come into play, but where there is an "official" link the external link policy seems (to me at least) to be very clear that it should be the only link considered. Opening the door to exercising editorial judgment over what is the most useful link is (per policy) not a consideration since such concerns lead to four month long discussions that tend to end without agreement :) -- Ryan • (talk) • 19:36, 12 November 2011 (EST)
There are two official links! That's what I've been saying all along. LtPowers 20:34, 12 November 2011 (EST)
I disagree. The state park link is clearly official (© 2011 New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation), but the other is the link for the park's concessionaire (© 2011 Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts at Niagara, Inc) rather than the park itself. -- Ryan • (talk) • 20:42, 12 November 2011 (EST)
What exactly is "unofficial" about the official operator of the park's amenities and concessions? LtPowers 21:36, 13 November 2011 (EST)

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