Wikitravel is a project to create a free, complete, up-to-date and reliable world-wide travel guide.
Wikitravel articles should be useful for at least the following purposes:
For on-line use by travellers on the road, huddled in a late-night Internet café in some dark jungle, who need up-to-the-minute information on lodging, transportation, food, nightlife, and other necessities;
For off-line use by travellers on the road sitting in a train with a subset of Wikitravel on their PDA, laptop, mobile phone, iPod or digital camera.
For on-line use by travellers still planning to review destinations, plan itineraries, make reservations, and get excited about their trip;
For individual article printouts, that is, for printing a list of museums or karaoke bars and putting it in your back pocket for when you need it -- or making a photocopy when someone else does;
For ad-hoc travel guides, small fit-to-purpose travel books that match a particular itinerary;
For inclusion in other travel books, giving up-to-date information for travel guide publishers.
There are probably hundreds of other uses for Wikitravel articles; these are ones we try to keep in mind while authoring and editing pages.
These are some specific non-goals; things people might think we want to do with Wikitravel, but we don't:
Create a travel essay anthology. Wikitravel is not a travel magazine. Articles should be directed toward practical information about travelling.
Create a collection of personal travel journals. Wikitravellers usually have interesting stories about their personal adventures which should instead be put somewhere other than our articles — such as Wikitravel Extra.
Provide a vacation photo gallery service. Photographs and illustrations should be targeted towards illustrating destinations and sights, not toward showing Grandma how big the mai-tai was that you drank at the luau.
Provide a personal homepage service. Each registered user on Wikitravel has a User page; these should be used to support the development of the travel guide, and not as an All About Me and My Cat Web site. One or two photographs on your User page is reasonable; more than 5 is really pushing it.
Create a travel chat board. If you want to talk about your experiences, ask questions, complain, make friends or joke around, try the forums at Wikitravel Extra. Wikitravel has discussion pages for each article, but these should be used to develop the article itself, and not as a "comments" area. Anyone can edit a Wikitravel article; if you have useful information about a topic, put it in the article itself.
Make an advertising brochure. Wikitravel of course has listings and information about travel-related businesses around the world. We would be thrilled to have representatives of these businesses keep those records up-to-date. However, blatant advertising is not welcome, and overcompetitive acts (like deleting information about rival businesses) is gravely deprecated.
Produce a Yellow Pages of restaurants, hotels, or bars for a city. City guides should certainly include information for travel-related companies, but these should be kept at a useful number. Think of a friend from out of town asking you where they should go -- you wouldn't list all 200 possibilities, but 5-10 options for a particular type, budget, or part of town.
Build a Web directory. Wikitravel articles can and should have links to external resources about destinations, itineraries, travel-oriented companies, and other travel-related Web sites. However, it's not a goal to collect all links about any destination. External links should support and complement the content of articles; they're not a goal in and of themselves.
Make a travel guide supplement. The Wiki technique we use for Wikitravel makes it possible for us to include information that's not in other travel guides. This doesn't mean that we only include information not found in other guides. Wikitravel aims to be a complete travel guide -- not just an additional resource on the side of traditional guides.
Make an encyclopedia. Wikitravel aims to tell people how to travel all over the world, not document everything there is on the planet or how it ended up that way. If you find yourself needing references and footnotes on Wikitravel, whatever you're writing should probably go to Wikipedia instead.
There are probably lots of other near-miss goals that people might think we have; if needed, we'll list those here, too.