Despite my exuberance above, I think this kind of status is only getting started. Wikitravel's travel topics are our least-developed feature (or perhaps tied with itineraries), and it's not really clear what a star travel topic would be. The boilerplate text in this guideline is misleading -- it's unlikely that there are any listings in a travel topic, and the layout is not as strictly defined as for destination guides.
As usual, the main criterion for a star article is that it be of unimpeachable quality and professional grade. If I were put on the spot, here's what I'd suggest as star criteria for travel topics:
Article is well-organized in a way that introduces the reader to the topic well, and gives them easy access to more advanced topics.
Prose is readable, concise, informative, concrete, and active.
In the current debate about whether the Teaching English article qualifies as a "Star Topic," a key question has to do with just what it means to cover a topic "fully" as currently required in the guidance. Clearly, the business of teaching English as a second language is so complex that there are books on the topic, and one cannot expect any WT article to cover "fully" matters that really require a book. There must be plenty of other topics in this position. So does this mean that --
Some topical articles can never reach Star status, no matter how well they're written?
We should reassess just what a Star Topic requires?
I'm too anal-retentive about what "fully" means? :-)
We certainly should not have star criteria that are unreachable by certain travel topics. Star status is useful as both a motivator for good work and as a pointer towards excellence worthy of emulation; it should always be a possibility. I've got only one reasonably clear thought in my head at present about how to get around this impasse:
Clearly delineateTeaching English as an overview travel topic. This would allow for more fine grained articles to develop related to specific aspects of teaching English, which could then be linked to the overview article. This would treat Teaching English as though it were the first chapter to a book on teaching English abroad, as an introduction. Having delineated the "topic" of this article as an overview/introduction, it would be easier to say that it covers the "overview/introduction" fully.
This would be a move towards having more systematic classifications for travel topics, which IMO would be a good thing. If we do categorize travel topics more strictly, we could even come up with star criteria specific to each classification. --PeterTalk 21:53, 30 August 2007 (EDT)
I'm a bit confused about the layout requirements and status determination of travel topics. Maybe I'm looking on the wrong page, but it seems to me that travel topic outlines are different from destination outlines, in that they will apparently be deleted if not edited for a year. Looking at Wikitravel:Travel_topic_status, it seems that that warning is the only template outline travel topics can bear. Why is that? In practice, some outline travel topics have been given a "normal" outline template (e.g. Rock climbing) while others have been tagged "usable" despite being fairly short (e.g. Round the world overland). I imagine this might also be the result of people trying to get rid of the deletion warning, and indeed it it would be strange to delete these topics.
Now, I was trying to save windsurfing from deletion, but I'm unsure what that would require? There doesn't seem to be a set article template for such topics (and I would say that's a good thing), but what would it need to be usable and thus off the hook? Or should I give it just the standard outline status? Justme 06:39, 13 January 2012 (EST)
IMO this is why we have the vfd process. We won't vote to delete an article that is being developed, or has travel content. --Inas 06:01, 14 January 2012 (EST)
I get that, and I'm not worried that windsurfing will be deleted now, but the vfd is meant to evaluate individual cases, judging them based on policy and common practice. In principle, we try to develop articles without making use of the vdf. So that leaves my more general questions about why travel topic outlines are different from destination articles. If there's no explanation, I don't see why we wouldn't replace the "warning-this will be deleted if not edited for a year" template with the "normal" outline template. Justme 06:30, 14 January 2012 (EST)
I kind of see your point. I see this policy squarely aimed at "Visiting secondary sewage processing plants in Southern Europe with kids", type article, rather than a single sport or such.
Practically, however, the threshold for being "usable" is quite low. If the article is usable, then apply the usable template. If it really is an outline (headings, introduction, and no travel content) then it deserves to be considered for vfd after a year.
Despite of some of the comments on the vfd page, I think it is one of the most effective collaborations on the site. It brings out the strongest arguments in content and policy, regularly rescues articles and images, and leads to policy development. I don't think I've ever seen a vote that I'd consider removes useful travel content.
Would you have contributed to the windsurfing article if it hadn't been there, or would it have been a content-less disaster for the next decade? --Inas 23:09, 15 January 2012 (EST)
Thank you for that link, Inas, it explains the rationale :-) Although I don't believe it's a proper policy for mainstream travel topics (like windsurfing or any other sport) I can see why it's been developed and how it is useful. When the usable threshold is quite low, it shouldn't be much of a problem. A final question again though (sorry), a writer is in principle free to choose headings, right? There's no template? Thanks! Justme 08:10, 16 January 2012 (EST)
Yes, the writer is in principle free to choose headings in a travel topic, however, there is a tendency to reuse existing headings where they fit, and use the imperative phrasing also.
I think there are an infinite amount of things that could become travel topics, and a finite set of contributors. We generally don't create a travel topic articles in advance of a contribution. Unfortunately, in my view, that contribution can be a non-contribution - with no travel content, and we still tend to keep the article. An equivalent non-contribution in an existing article may well be removed. I see travel topics as needing curating during their early days if they are going to be successful, and if they are created by a passer-by and no regular contributor steps up, they languish. --Inas 17:09, 16 January 2012 (EST)