Wikitravel:8 April 2007

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Wikitravel in Slate[edit]

There's an article on Slate called Testing out Wikitravel. The author, Tim Wu, used Wikitravel guides exclusively for a trip to Thailand, and wasn't very happy with the experience. I think he got some things wrong about Wikitravel, so I've sent him the following letter by email.

Hi, Tim. I just read your article in Slate. I wanted to point out a couple of things about Wikitravel that you seem to have missed.
First, for huge cities like Bangkok, we have an overview of the city on the main page, and put the details about hotels, restaurants, and sights in the "district" pages -- one article per neighbourhood. So if you wanted to stay in Khao San Road, you could look on this page for detailed listings:
http://wikitravel.org/en/Bangkok/Khao_San_Road
Second, each of our articles has an "article status" rating, made by the community. It's a good way to tell if you should use the article as your sole source of information, or... well... if it's a place we need more contributions!
http://wikitravel.org/en/Wikitravel:Article_status
You also seem to be mistaken about the nature of our "be fair" policy. It is, in fact, distinct from Wikipedia's neutral point of view in that we do encourage lively writing, accurate reporting, and a traveler's point of view.
http://wikitravel.org/en/Wikitravel:Be_fair
http://wikitravel.org/en/Wikitravel:The_traveller_comes_first
I'm sorry that your first experience as a consumer of Wikitravel was poor. I hope that you'll take the time to update the guides for the places you visited so that the next travellers can benefit from your experience.
Thanks,
~Evan
P.S. If you have any further questions about Wikitravel, please feel free to ask me.

From Tim Wu:

I appreciate this feedback. I wrote the Slate piece as a supporter of the Wikitravel concept, and of Wikis in general. I am sorry I didn't end up more positive overall, but I hope that constructive criticism can make the site better, while also I think time will make Wikitravel better too.

On the issues you raise in the letter above. I did know, as I said to you, about the "be fair" concept, and its difference from NPOV, but I didn't sense the difference was being observed all that much.

Second, it is true that I didn't find the more specific Bangkok pages. But even if had, overall accomodation-coverage does seem to be a weak spot for reasons I don't really understand. It seems to me that people would want to write about where they stayed, but something right now doesn't seem to be working in that regard. I am not sure how this might be addressed.

Overall, as I said in the piece, I think that Wikitravel, while a great idea, also faces a danger. The basic danger is that the software and force of habit result in Wikitravel being too much like a site that is just like Wikipedia but with original research allowed. Again I am not sure exactly what to do about that, but it struck me as the problem.

Anyhow I suppose the article speaks for itself, but most of all I hope you can understand the spirit in which it was written. I look forward to contributing to Wikitravel in the future. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Wuster (talkcontribs)

Greetings and welcome back to the site! You know, one thing that I love about Wikitravel is the Docents program, which allows someone to sign up and answer questions other travelers may have. I think that has some awesome potential. Can you imagine, if you're in a bind and because of this feature a fellow Wikitraveller saves the day? I haven't heard of any story like that, yet.

Currently, we don't have a docent for Bangkok, but if you feel compelled...

Anyhow, we noticed some things from your experience that has led us to try to figure out how we can best improve our guides to allow increased ease of use. Hopefully, you'll be so kind as to help improve the articles that you had the most trouble with so we can understand the problems even better and translate that understanding into improvement.

Thanks for the help and criticism. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 03:42, 13 April 2007 (EDT)

I think we should send another e-mail, and do another test. In Bangkok's current shape, the Wikitravel guide is one of the best guides out there! :-) --globe-trotter 05:51, 13 October 2011 (EDT)

Using Wikitravel for travel[edit]

So, one thing that the Slate article points out to me is that we don't have a good page on how to use Wikitravel guides for travelling. Some things that seem rather obvious to experienced Wikitravellers (look at the article status, check the districts in huge cities) aren't actually all that intuitive. Should we have a page on using Wikitravel guides for travel? --Evan 10:55, 8 April 2007 (EDT)

I think a bigger issue is that it's hard to figure out where documentation is and how to use it. This isn't a job I'm volunteering for, but starting with Wikitravel:Help (which is the most obvious starting point for most people, and it's linked from the left nav) it might be good to categorize our documentation, using a tree structure to allow people to drill-down. Something like:
Wikitravel:Help (which would contain)
Help for readers/travelers
Overview of help for readers/travelers
List of reader/traveler articles
Help for contributors (that's you!)
Text overview of how to contribute
List of contributor articles
Help for others
Overview of help for others
Links to articles such as re-using travel guides, etc.
That's just a suggestion (documentation isn't my strong suit), but the current help documentation is somewhat fragmented and difficult to follow, so some consolidation and re-organization might go a long way towards improving usability. Additionally, although they've been a four-letter word around here for a while, use of Mediawiki categories for organizing documentation would also be useful in providing indexes for people looking for documentation about particular features. We would of course need to keep the categories limited and organized, but they could be useful. -- Ryan • (talk) • 12:56, 8 April 2007 (EDT)
That's a great idea. Should we move the discussion to Wikitravel talk:Help? --Evan 20:04, 8 April 2007 (EDT)
Done. -- Ryan • (talk) • 02:08, 9 April 2007 (EDT)

Be Fair[edit]

I think we could do a better job of making it clear to contributors that "Be Fair" is not NPOV. I haven't been doing much actual editing here but I lurk frequently. The one thing that tends to make me edit is when I see a mis-guided watering-down of our content by somebody aiming for the bland NPOV to which they think a wiki project must aspire. -- Mark 20:20, 8 April 2007 (EDT)


District articles[edit]

I added the new {{printDistricts}} template to Bangkok, this is a great example of why it was a good idea! We should make a point of getting that template onto all of the articles using the huge city template. I've also bolded the district names in the district section, and brought that up on the MoS talk page. – cacahuate talk 21:38, 8 April 2007 (EDT)

Great way to persuade the community :-)[edit]

This case demonstrate that one of the most effective ways to persuade the community to change something (or to popularize change, as it happened with Template:printDistricts here) is to publish an article demonstrating why it is bad that the change is still not implemented :-) --DenisYurkin 00:23, 15 May 2007 (EDT)