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Wikitravel talk:Guide for business owners

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Excellent job![edit]

Nice start on this page, Todd. Now we have a much better place to direct well-meaning business owners instead of the Wikitravel:Don't tout page (which now seems a little too negative for people that are trying to promote their business, but just don't quite understand our guidelines). Could we also add something here about images? I'm not quite sure how to say it, but similar to:

Since we don't use images of hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, etc. please try to describe your business as straightforward as possible. We would love it if you upload images of things to see and do in your city, just be sure you understand that images you upload will be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license that we use.

Hopefully, something like this will let them know that: a) images of their hotel rooms/bars/logo will be deleted, and b) they won't upload all of the images from their website that they don't really wish to change the license of. Any thoughts? -- Fastestdogever 10:27, 23 May 2007 (EDT)

Good idea; I've incorporated this into the article. - Todd VerBeek 11:06, 23 May 2007 (EDT)
This is a great article, now we just need to link it in a bit more so people can actually find it! Jpatokal 04:31, 12 June 2007 (EDT)

Do we really want this?[edit]

I was pointed to this article a few days ago and I have to say that I was really shocked. Up to this day I thought we wanted to create a travel guide from travellers for travellers. Rule #6 from our goals and non-goals says that we would like business owners to update records and I have always taken this very literal, thinking that it would be ok to update e.g. opening hours, but not adding their hotel or restaurant to our pages. If we would allow this, one day (when Wikitravel is even more popular than it is today!) every business owner will try to create an entry for his business. And then Wikitravel will be reduced to a Yellow Pages for a city. Like rule #7 says, we do not want this. Noone reading a travelguide is interested in all 3547 restaurants of London. She or he wants recommondations, and even though a wiki will never be proof that this recommondations will be honest, we should at least try that they are... --Flip666 writeme! • 17:34, 27 July 2007 (EDT)

Original discussion[edit]

The following discussion was copied from User talk:Flip666 and provides further background to this discussion:

Thanks for all of your cleanups! One request, however, is that if something reads like an "ad" it is better to rephrase it than to remove it. Just like anyone else business owners are encouraged to contribute (see Wikitravel:Welcome, business owners) and it's best not to remove their content simply because it sounds commercial - the information is generally still helpful, even if the phrasing is off-putting. -- Ryan • (talk) • 15:11, 21 July 2007 (EDT)

Ah, I did not knew that page! I personally do not like the idea that business owners write about their hotels etc. here, but it seems that this is only my opinion, so next time I will try to rephrase it. --Flip666 writeme! • 15:17, 21 July 2007 (EDT)
No, not alone, also my opinion! – cacahuate talk 16:16, 21 July 2007 (EDT)
Good to know. I am not sure if this has already been discussed, so before starting a new discussion in the pub I wrote Todd a note. --Flip666 writeme! • 16:33, 21 July 2007 (EDT)
See Wikitravel:Don't tout (Business employees, like everyone, are welcome to add information to Wikitravel) and Wikitravel:Goals and non-goals (#6: We would be thrilled to have representatives of these businesses keep those records up-to-date). I suspect there would be a huge amount of opposition to forbidding business owners from contributing, but at the same time if someone is blatantly violating the "don't tout" guidelines by copying advertising into multiple articles then the consensus has been that it is perfectly OK to remove those listings. -- Ryan • (talk) • 16:51, 21 July 2007 (EDT)
I do not want to forbid someone contributing (and we cant anyway), but on the other hand we do not want to create yellow pages here. And if we encourage business owners to add to the listings that is exactly what the result will be. Goal #6 says that we want business owners to update the listings not to create a new entry. It is ok to update prices, opening hours, etc. but not descriptions. --Flip666 writeme! • 17:03, 21 July 2007 (EDT)
I can't find the discussion, but I mentioned it somewhere before, and my idea was pretty unpopular. It's a sticky situation... but almost impossible to police, especially if the person adding info is a native English speaker and can do it from a travelers' perspective. So far it usually seems to be pretty clear when someone is touting, and we revert it or tone it down. Mandarmani is a good example, several of us are watching that article carefully. A few times I've tried to be really friendly with certain business owners, like the lady in Flores (Guatemala) who has added info about her guesthouse. She also knows a lot about the island, I would imagine, so could potentially help us keep "Get in" and other sections up to date, and give info on things to do. I do see positive sides of them being involved, but I also have a HUGE dislike for people who tout. Hmmm. – cacahuate talk 18:36, 21 July 2007 (EDT)
I don't think we have a choice -- business owners will add their listings whether we like it or not. This policy/welcome page is our only chance to explain to them how they should do it and make them contribute productively. Otherwise, if their listings are just removed with a blanket ban, we'll just get more ballistic cases like Sihanoukville. (Not to mention that it's pretty much impossible to tell apart a positive review from a well-done tout. Eg. there's that one guy who's going around adding nicely done Hyatt listings: does he work for them, or is he just a huge fan?) Jpatokal 22:24, 27 July 2007 (EDT)
Of course we should try to explain instead of just removing entries. But on one hand we do not want to create yellow pages, on the other hand we are not allowed to remove obvious entries because of this guideline. So if we want to keep this page we'll have to remove non-goal #7... --Flip666 writeme! • 05:05, 3 August 2007 (EDT)

Related discussion: Wikitravel talk:Don't tout# marking advertisements written by business owner. --DenisYurkin 15:51, 26 November 2007 (EST)

how to remove info on competitors[edit]

I've rewritten the guidelines for removal: my belief is that there's no "authorities" here who can be asked for removal, but it should be a consensus in the community--as reached in discussion on a talk page. Objections? Comments? --DenisYurkin 15:58, 10 November 2007 (EST)

Looks good to me. Jpatokal 22:12, 10 November 2007 (EST)

encourage creating an account[edit]

I just found that this article doesn't have explicit encouragement to create a user account. Where it could fit best? I would also vote for giving benefits of having an account. --DenisYurkin 16:40, 27 November 2007 (EST)

Added a brief note, effectively saying "Its a Wiki"[edit]

I don't think there is anything new or controversial in pointing our that articles change, get modified etc. Its all part of the deal. I think we need to be clear that there is no "right" to have any business entry in wikitravel - otherwise we will end up in a services directory. --Inas 20:06, 14 September 2008 (EDT)

I know it's a long standing policy, but darn it would be nice to revert all the BO entries, without having to come up with excuses. In my view this policy is starting to hurt us, and above all our credibility, and could use a revision. I would like if we revised this page, and made a templated welcome message where we stress that as for business owners listings on wikitravel is a privilege not a right, and if they can't be bothered making a proper entry it will be reverted on sight. We've reached a saturation level where we don't really need their contributions any more. (i.e. most cities have a dozen hotel listings, but rarely will they have any useful ones). --Stefan (sertmann) talk 00:06, 4 November 2009 (EST)
The devil will be in the details, but I'm very much in favor of a more strict policy enabling us to curtail business-driven additions. I rather feel like our site is being overrun by them to the detriment of our credibility—IMO this site should be "by the people, for the people." Regarding our ability to discriminate— yes, it is impossible to identify all contributions by the craftiest touts, but it would be possible to easily identify the vast majority of them. --Peter Talk 00:19, 4 November 2009 (EST)
Dancing around the issues of handling edits by those with obvious conflicts of interest (yes, business owners, but more and more often marketing agencies who have never been to the destination they are writing about) doesn't just cause us issues with biased, incorrect and useless information being provided to travellers, it also forces us into contortions in other policies that cause otherwise useful edits to be excluded. Minimally, we need to state clearly that every edit made is in the best interest of the traveller. Those promoting other interests in their edits need to find an appropriate site. --inas 01:43, 4 November 2009 (EST)
I'd be very much opposed to a "revert all the BO entries" policy - see Colorado's Wine Country for one such reason why this could be a very bad idea, but it's probably time for an explicit "no advertising" policy that would make it easier to revert violations of Wikitravel:Don't tout and the hotel spammers that show up and add useless listings across dozens of articles (note: some of these folks try to be well-behaved, so a blanket policy won't work). Starting with the guidelines in Wikitravel:Don't tout and adding some verbiage that prevents adding improperly formatted listings straight from the latest Marriot brochure to a dozen articles would seem like a good beginning if there is wider interest for such a policy. -- Ryan • (talk) • 01:52, 4 November 2009 (EST)

I like the revert-instantly policy for "edits not to interest of the traveller" and "whatever looks like mass addition, until proven otherwise", and something for apartments--no idea yet. Without such radical changes, any improvements to articles like DontTout just wont work. --DenisYurkin 03:07, 4 November 2009 (EST)

Some interesting POVs emerging here. As a related point, I would add that I think it would be helpful to the site if it were made very clear to business owners that sleep and eat listings (especially) must be added via the relevant WT template. --Burmesedays 03:31, 4 November 2009 (EST)
Unfortunately, I see User:WineCountryInn as an exception. In the two years this article has been around, I would say that they would be the only business owner who has participated in the way we would have hoped. In that time, there have been many thousands of edits made by other business interests not in the interest of the traveller. At the end of the day, while we remain a human edited guide, I don't fear for the edits of business owners who participate in building a quality travel guide. I think they will always be accepted. I do fear for our guide when every business owner is given the right to post an advert on our site.
I think we should lead this article with some of the points emerging here. Our primary focus is getting an unbiased guide, with traveller information from genuine travellers, locals, and other interested participants without a vested interest. Business owners should not place adverts here on the wiki, and all content should be written specifically with travellers in mind. Business owners should always use standard formatting. Adding multiple listings to multiple articles by marketing agencies is not acceptable. Sound like a start? --inas 17:32, 5 November 2009 (EST)
I don't really understand how any of that's different from current policy...?
And while User:WineCountryInn is indeed exceptional, there are plenty of other users with vested interests doing a great job. User:Burmesedays owns a business in Bali and is doing insanely great work, and consider also eg. Hyatt rep User:Christiantc (textbook perfect hotel listings), User:Visitestonia (great text and photo contributions around the country), User:Borndistinction (massive Tourism Authority of Thailand dump), etc etc. Jpatokal 00:14, 6 November 2009 (EST)
I think it is different from what this article says, yes. If you think it is in line with current policy, all the better.
If someone has a vested interest in a business, what they write about that business may well be compromised by that interest. User:Christiantc is a perfect example. Follow his edits around, see hotel listings removed from our guides because they are no longer Hyatts (The hotels weren't actually demolished). See sleep entries blanded down to hotel speak. Of what benefit is it to wikitravel to have every Hyatt listed here in Hyatt speak, by someone who has never seen, stayed at, or knows anything about the hotel other than the spiel they have been given by Hyatt to work from? I really do fail to see the value in that. Do we really want the hotel marketing consultants writing our sleep guide for us? Are we being taken for a ride here?
But you are right, all business owners are not the same. How about we take a different approach. We can split the article into two basic sections. The article would go something like ... Welcome to WT.. blah..blah.. You are welcome to join the Wikitravel community.. plunge forward and include travel information.. blah blah.. If you just want to add a listing for your business, or a business you are working on behalf of we have a pretty strict set of guidelines you must follow to avoid having your edit reverted... blah blah... Does that structure sound any better? --inas 00:35, 6 November 2009 (EST)
There is a tendency here to assume that "business owner = bad" and "traveler = good". And sometimes that is certainly true. I could though give a large number of examples of complete and utter misleading rubbish written by travelers here. Indeed, I have spent a lot of time removing such nonsense from articles on destinations that I know well; probably as much time as I have spent removing spam or re-writing over-touty listings from business owners. Providing the business owner has used a template (which is why I suggested it should be made a requirement), detouting any listing is a quick and easy job.
All that being said, anything that re-inforces the don't tout policies and that Wikitravel is a travel guide not an advertising medium, has to be good. On that, I think we all agree. --Burmesedays 01:45, 6 November 2009 (EST)
To clarify what I would like to see happen, I think we should use the "non-contributing users" distinction in deciding how to deal with business owners. If a business owner is clearly interested in improving Wikitravel content, then I personally couldn't care less about potential conflicts of interest—actually, I tend to think that a responsible, helpful Wikitraveller would also likely be a responsible, helpful business owner. But the problems we have come with touts that have no conflict of interest—they're here for the sole purpose of plugging their business on a website with a high PageRank. An added benefit of a stricter policy with regards to such users would be that it could encourage salivating touts to actually do some good work. That's already happened in the past—almost the entire Deep Creek Lake article was written (outline to near guide!) because a formerly errant tout felt the need to regain some credibility before we'd be willing to hear him out. --Peter Talk 04:03, 6 November 2009 (EST)

Okay, all good points. I'll have a go at a new draft this morning, and see what the response is. --inas 16:56, 8 November 2009 (EST)

I have had an attempt at a new version. It is available here. My aims are certainly to avoid the business owner = bad, traveller = good, conclusion, and to encourage as much travel info as possible from wherever we can get it. It attempts to be more prescriptive about business owners adding their own listings. Hopefully it is not too controversial, and can be a step in the right direction. I would appreciate any comments. --inas 18:06, 8 November 2009 (EST)
Thank you for that Inas and will certainly have a good read and comment if appropriate. I meant to post a response earlier to Peter's point about business owners posting links here purely for SEO PageRank purposes. That is most definitely true and could be dealt with if all external links (bar those on the sidebar I guess) were automatically marked with a "no follow" tag. This is what Wikipedia do with all reference and citation links I believe? The no follow tag removes any SEO juice from the link and webmasters who troll the internet looking for such opportunities would soon get the message that there is no PageRank benefit to be gained from a Wikitravel back-link.--Burmesedays 22:41, 8 November 2009 (EST)
That would help, but having their business listed on a prominent website, link or no, is still always going to be valuable. --Peter Talk 04:22, 9 November 2009 (EST)

I think we need the following stated loud and clear, and agree to make the following a de-facto standard practice. Otherwise it just won't change anything:

  1. the following edits will be reverted without notice on talk page, and with a short explanation in edit summary (if at all)
    1. listings/edits not to interest of the traveller
    2. serial adding of a single entry (or of a chain) to multiple articles
    3. removal/edit of competitor's listing
    4. the above equally applies to apartment agencies, tour operators as well as hotels&restaurants
  2. hence we shouldn't invest efforts into detouting: if it was fair and became touting, revert back to fair. If it freshly added as touting, revert until someone recommend it from traveler point of view (at least pretend to). If it's touting and existed before, remove it and wait if someone else will add it as recommended by traveler
  3.  !!! any listing that already looks a result of the above can be nuked by anyone anytime, without going back to history on whether it looked OK sometime before, with a short explanation as above; "write to Talk: if you disagree"
  4. so we need a set of short-explanation templates (we have some like don't tout redirect pages, but not for everything methinks
  5. it should not be necessary to be very polite explaining to any tout on his usertalk page why his edit was reverted (or we need a set of easy-to-remember templates; no manual writing here please)

--DenisYurkin 12:19, 19 November 2009 (EST)

There is obviously some diversity of opinion towards these listings. Whether we give notice to the user on why an edit is already optional. It can be seen as a nice thing to do, but it isn't compulsory to do so. Certainly a few strategic templates should exist to assist. I use firefox extensions to have a few standard templates for reversions. Shortcuts/redirects work well too.
What I would like to do is to a least put a stake in the ground, and let business owners know in this article, that while we value any travel information they would care to add, they cannot review their own business. Sure, if they construct a good entry anonymously, we may not be able to tell, but I think well over 90% of the time it is apparent to us when a business owner or agent is adding an entry for their own business. The rule should be, if you add an entry for your own business, or one you are acting on behalf of, and it is allowed by our policies, don't review it, don't tout it, just put down the facts.
If they do otherwise, the change will be reverted or de-touted at the subsequent editors discretion. I see this as largely no change to our existing touting policy, but it is in terms that are more clear. Many businesses obviously don't consider copying the review from their webpage as touting. A no-review by business owners or affiliates policy is much easier for them to understand, and easier for us to patrol.
An alternative suggested text for this article is still here, and if anybody objects to the new text could they state why, or have a go at changing it? --inas 19:08, 19 November 2009 (EST)
Does the existing (or the proposed above) policy allows to nuke any listing that is touting / written no in the interest of the traveller? --DenisYurkin 03:21, 20 November 2009 (EST)
I very much agree with the notion we should not allow business owners to review their own business. --Stefan (sertmann) talk 19:28, 19 November 2009 (EST)
I think lots of us would be surprised at how quickly things would improve if all external links here were marked with a no follow tag (I explained the rationale for that earlier in this discussion). I have a fair bit of experience in SEO matters and I am absolutely sure that a large proportion of businesses placing a touty listing here do so for the benefit of a back-link from a bang on-topic high PageRank site. Remove the power of that back-link and remove a large percentage of our problems. It is a very simple solution and one used by Wikipedia amongst others as I explained above. It would not solve all the problems with touting but I think many would be surprised at the extent of the improvement. --Burmesedays 21:28, 19 November 2009 (EST)
While I appreciate that may be the case, and I would certainly support such a move unequivocally, we have no effective way to accomplish that change. Our wiki software is already way the latest developments in many other ways, and lets face it, IB can't even fix the most fundamental of issues (like the caching problem) in a timely manner, let alone take on nice to have changes. They struggle to just keep the thing up and usable, as we have seen, and have a complete inability to communicate effectively with us. Sure, lets continue to press for that tech request, but lets focus on a partial solution we can actually accomplish ourselves in the mean time. --inas 21:51, 19 November 2009 (EST)
Sure Inas, points well taken. I am not in disagreement with anything you have proposed by the way. I do wonder how effective it will be though to state that a business owner cannot review his own business. They will anyway I think and we will still get the same volume of touty listings. Hence my urging to press for a practical change that will greatly lessen the value of a link-back from WT, hence detering business owners who come here for that reason and that reason only. As you say, it is a great shame that IB cannot address a very simple issue like this one. --Burmesedays 22:40, 19 November 2009 (EST)

To address DenisYurkin's question, does the existing or new policy allow us to nuke. Well, the new article makes it clear that touty changes will be reverted. As to whether they are wiil still remain at the discretion of the editor. The current consensus around the place seems to me to be to de-tout that hostel in some obscure destination, to revert that apartment in rome, or chain motel in North America, and to use best judgement elsewhere. If you revert and someone else wants to come along and undo that change and de-tout, that is always their perogative. --inas 14:59, 20 November 2009 (EST)

Thanks for explanation, Inas. Which policy page is it better to link from edit summary when I am about to nuke a touting listing? --DenisYurkin 16:37, 20 November 2009 (EST)
Personally, I use apt and tour a lot when appropriate. Otherwise Wikitravel:Don't tout is the best one to stress. Adding Wikitravel:Welcome, business owners is extra polite, since it is a much more inviting article than the above. --Peter Talk 17:13, 20 November 2009 (EST)

Having re-read this discussion, it seems like there is some consensus around the idea that our existing policies are sufficient or could be tightened somewhat, but that there is also confusion about when it is appropriate to simply revert contributions. Would it be helpful to explicitly call out examples of what can be reverted? Something along the lines of:

The following edits will generally be immediately reverted in accordance with Wikitravel guidelines, and for serious violations may result in blacklisting of the offending business:
  • Links to booking engines and other sites not in compliance with Wikitravel:External links.
  • Edits that remove competitor listings or that change unflattering reviews without discussion.
  • Listings that are added to multiple articles or multiple times in the same article.
  • Listings for rentals or tours that do not meet Wikitravel's standards.
  • Contributions that are made for search engine optimization purposes. Listing a URL multiple times, including referral codes, or attempting to link using high-value search keywords all fall under this category.
  • Edits that replace traveler-written content with marketing or promotional language.
  • Mass-updates to businesses operating in multiple locations (such as hotel chains) that do not follow Wikitravel's guidelines on format and tone.
While we encourage contributions from all users, Wikitravel should not be seen as a tool for advertising or promoting a business - the site is first and foremost a reference for travelers and the interests of the traveler come first.

I think that encapsulates the cases that have been called out explicitly. Would there any objection to explicitly adding this info to the policy page? -- Ryan • (talk) • 13:54, 21 November 2009 (EST)

That seems near-perfect to me Ryan. You make the points extremely well and strike the desired tone I think. --Burmesedays 21:49, 21 November 2009 (EST)
I would really like to see a consensus arise here, but I see that list as considerably weaker than even our current policy. Firstly, any edit is subject to the edit->revert->discuss cycle.
Marketing and promotional language should, by and large, be reverted unless some editor is willing to de-tout it. Not just if it replaces traveller-written content.
Mass updates to business operating in multiple locations should be reviewed carefully, and are certainly not legitimised just because they use a listing format or are written in a certain tone.
By making a list of reversion reasons weaker than our currently policy, we may be taking a step back here. --inas 17:33, 22 November 2009 (EST)
Ok. I have had a go at re-drafting Ryan's list, hardening the approach in places.
The following edits will be immediately reverted in accordance with Wikitravel guidelines, and for serious violations may result in blacklisting of the offending business and/or poster:
  • New listings or edits written in anything other than an informational tone. While we encourage contributions from all users, Wikitravel is not a tool for advertising or promoting a business - the site is a reference guide for travelers and the interests of the traveler come first.
  • New listings entered in any format other than by using the relevant Wikitravel template.
  • Any content written using capital letters.
  • Links to booking engines and other sites not in compliance with Wikitravel:External links. This includes blogs, facebook pages and any other social networking sites.
  • Edits that remove competitor listings or that change unflattering reviews without discussion.
  • Listings that are added to multiple articles or multiple times in the same article.
  • Listings for rentals or tours that do not meet Wikitravel's standards.
  • Contributions that are made for search engine optimization purposes. Listing a URL multiple times, including referral codes, or attempting to link using high-value search keywords all fall under this category.
  • Edits that replace traveler-written content with marketing or promotional language.
  • Mass-updates to businesses operating in multiple locations (such as hotel chains and stores) that do not follow Wikitravel's guidelines on format and tone.
Comments please. --Burmesedays 05:59, 25 November 2009 (EST)
Two suggestions: clarify the capitalization comment (not everyone is a native English speaker so that could be confusing) and clarify that adding/updating multiple listings without the relevant template is a cause for reversion (we're generally fairly permissive with new users who add incorrect listings):
  • Adding multiple listings in any format other than by using the relevant Wikitravel template.
  • Any content written with portions in All capital letters.
Aside from those two minor quibbles I'm all good with the proposed language. -- Ryan • (talk) • 10:29, 25 November 2009 (EST)
All good with the capital letter clarifcation. I don't know what you mean by multiple listings though? My point was that if a business owner does not use a template, we have just cause to simply burn the listing. If it is a "good" listing I would never do that but who wants to both detout and reformat a crappy listing? --Burmesedays 10:43, 25 November 2009 (EST)
Since it is always easier to revert an edit than to clean it up, I'd just like to make sure that we aren't putting a policy in place that encourages patrollers to revert imperfect listings without comment, so the "multiple" comment was meant as a way to allow reverting the hotel chain touts without allowing removal of one-off listings from new users. Since most new users will merely copy what is already on the page (and we have TONS of badly-formatted listings) I think it's important to be lenient about allowing improperly formatted listings. In the example you cited, if the listing is tout-ish then the "not in an informational tone" guideline would allow us to burn it. Overall my opinion is that it's more important to encourage new users and increase the size of the community than to discourage touts, so I'm hoping that we can clarify the policy on touts without putting verbiage in place that would make it easier to unwittingly chase away potential new contributors. -- Ryan • (talk) • 10:59, 25 November 2009 (EST)
I think new users are discouraged by the amount of advertising content here, both in on screen ads, and promotional listings. I think people volunteering their time to these kinds of projects, will always have an aversion to them being hijacked by marketing consultants and touts. I really don't think this policy is going to burn new users. Our target here is very much adding a fly-by listing.
I'm still a little concerned about this list. Most of it is already pretty clearly spelt out, both here and in the respective policies. It still weakens those policies, because currently I would feel quite comfortable reverting an edit that didn't comply with those policies, if I felt it wasn't worth fixing. This list imposes additional restrictions on a patroller, but no real additional restrictions on a touty contributor, apart complying with a few formatting guidelines. Formatting, really is, the least of our worries. I'm convinced that we get the right balance between the right of a patroller and the right of a business I, along with many others here, have patrolled many thousands of edits, and there are still articles, listings, etc out there that are nothing more than promo-pieces. I'm looking for community support to help clean up this stuff. I'm sure I'm not (and others aren't) wanting to go our and burn new users. If we see evidence of this happening, we can take action then, but the primary concern now is getting the touts under control.
If we aren't in agreement to my redraft, perhaps we should look again at following Peter's suggestion. Limiting users who do nothing but contribute promotional material, and distinguishing them from travel contributors? --inas 17:44, 25 November 2009 (EST)


How selective we should be in listings[edit]

OK, I've tried to follow the above reading of our guidelines, as I understood them from the discussion. I did that in a very straightforward way: nuked everything from some articles I watch which is written clearly by a business-affiliated person, and not in the interest of a traveller. See edits dated 21 Nov in my contribs [1].

Several of my removals were immediately reverted, and originally promotional listings got some detouting from other editors. Before my experiment they were easily ignored by an educated reader because of their promotional language. However, after detouting they became much harder to recognize among others.

This led me to a question beyond "how much touting to allow". The question is: shouldn't we become more selective in what listings we allow to be added? Right now it looks like we don't mind to fill empty space with whatever hotels provided that they are not touting and are not negative. Effectively this makes us a limited yellow pages for most destinations most of the time (where a limit is a reasonable number of hotels per destination, let say 50).

Yes, when an article ultimately find its knowledgeable editor who will research the whole destination and ensure that only the best hotels are kept.

But before that editor appears (which is true for most articles most of the time), our listings ARE unhelpful by design with the above approach.

My proposal is to keep only those listings which clearly reflect traveller's opinion--even if it's only a single-night stay of an individual traveler.

I don't mind if hotel owners add facts on description of their business (provided that a business is already added by a real traveller). But I don't see any sense to allow them to add their businesses as new listings, until some traveler confirms that given hotel is worth attention for some reason / type of traveler.

So the point is: isn't it better to have fewer listings which were clearly tried by a traveler--than to have more but which were never tried (and described) from travelers perspective? The goal is to aim usefulness of listings during entire lifecycle of our article, not only an article becomes a star. --DenisYurkin 05:14, 25 November 2009 (EST)

And yes, among other things I propose to remove this rule from our policies:

Business owners are encouraged to add information about their hotel, restaurant, store or activity provider

(not sure on other types of businesses at this point). --DenisYurkin 12:34, 25 November 2009 (EST)

De-touting to make a promotional listing sound authentic is just plain wrong. It is misleading to our users. De-touting should involve removing promotional language, and leaving the facts. The traveller comes first, and doing anything to deliberately deceive them is contrary to our fundamental aim.
I'm inclined to agree with your overall position. I don't see anything wrong with the robust discussion and reversion cycle taking place in Rome. That article needs some of this kind of attention, and hopefully the article will settle better than it was.
In reality we have some articles with accommodation that is definitely added by shonky operators. We would be better just picking 10 hotels at random than we would picking the 10 who have seen fit to add their own fly-by listings here.
However, we have some strong supporters of business owners being allowed to add listings, and I think the best chance we have of settling on a meaningful consensus for now is to allow listings, but disallow self-written reviews, and some of the other criteria we are discussing above. --inas 17:20, 25 November 2009 (EST)
Thanks, Inas.
Could someone please summarize the key reasons for strong support of business owners being allowed to add listings of themselves? --DenisYurkin 18:07, 25 November 2009 (EST)
So are you both saying that if a business owner added a factual, accurate and helpful listing it would be deleted? That would be a backward step for WikiTravel I believe. And just how do you determine whether a business owner has added his own business? Check the IP address? Time-consuming and very easy to get around. Just stating that a business owner cannot review his own business will have close to zero effect I believe - they will anyway. So you are creating yet another task, the need to check if a perfectly acceptable and helpful listing was or was not created by the beneficiary of the business listed. Surely what we should be trying to do here is encourage objective, non-touty, informative and helpful listings, not throw them out. If WT limits itself to the musings of travellers, then it becomes little more than a large global version of one of many thousands of traveller forums out there. --Burmesedays 21:29, 25 November 2009 (EST)
I don't want to go too far down this path, because I don't support changing our policy to stop business owners placing factual listings for their own businesses. However, the point here that in a city like Rome there are lots of accommodation options. How do we pick out the 20 or so we want to have in our guide? Should they be the 20 placed by their owners, employees, marketing consultants, hired helps, SEO consultants, or 20 that someone - at least one traveller - has actually stayed in? Is there any actual benefit to the traveller in picking the 20 belonging to business owners who choose to tout their business here, rather than the 20 or so that tout at the station, or airport?
The first bit of traveller advice we give to people looking for accommodation is to not go with the tout at the airport. Yet the same people who post to WT are welcomed and have their listings protected. -
I'm not asking or demanding anyone else to check ips, check websites, facts etc. I'm just asking that if I or anyone else choose to spend their time doing it, that they at least have the support of the community. At the moment, it often seems like people are willing to spend more time supporting the touts. -inas 21:50, 25 November 2009 (EST)
Just to make it clear, I am really not interested in supporting touts (quite the opposite) and indeed spend a lot of hours doing the very patrol work you mention. It is the stereo-typing of business owners as touts and the tarring with one brush which I am keen to avoid I guess. To keep it simple, my approach is that if a owner-placed listing has useful information in a good format but is touty or opinionated, take out the touting and keep the useful information. If the information is no good to start with, then burn the listing altogether. I would though 100% oppose removing a listing purely because it was placed by a beneficial interest holder in the listed business. --Burmesedays 00:04, 26 November 2009 (EST)
Again, I agree with you that this is the policy aim, possinly with the exception of detouting articles where the listings are already sufficient. However, I fail to see the difference betwen a SEO company, or Web 2.0 marketing specialist to the reilway station tout, regardless of the langauge they use. The latter may even be more reliable - at least they have probably seen the hotel they are recommending. By removing the promotional langauge, and integrating it our guide the touts get what they want, and we do the traveller a disservice. We're the mugs here. --inas 03:53, 26 November 2009 (EST)
1. Do we have so many examples of businesses added by themselves which are really worth recommending (especially which are great value for money)? Can someone share these examples? Did a single listing added by a business itself survived to be included into a star article? What makes us believe that the same business wouldn't be added by a real traveler if it's really a great choice in the destination?
2. Does anyone have an example of a listing which was likely added by a business owner, but looked very similar to a genuinely traveler-written content?
3. I always thought that we are here to recommend the best businesses at any specific place. We can't have any reason to recommend a business that adds itself (at least until someone tries it from a travelers perspective and confirm how good it really is). As long as it's not tried, the business is not different for us from hundreds of its competitors. Best businesses normally don't have any problems with having enough clients; moreover, they are likely to be too busy with keeping their enterprise at the high level--and don't have time (and reasons) for online marketing.
4. Back to my original question: so what are key reasons for strong support of business owners being allowed to add listings of themselves?
5. Maybe we try to forbid self-added listings in a limited set of articles, like world's top 25 of most traveled-into cities?
--DenisYurkin 09:54, 26 November 2009 (EST)
You make your points well Denis but I think a few of them have been answered already - sort of anyway. I come back to my key point made earlier - how do you know when a business owner has added his own listing? How do you know and how do you police it?
To answer one of your points; in articles I am especially close to, a large percentage of listings were (probably - how can you or I be sure?) added by business owners and they survive today. They have been re-formatted and re-written but that applies to traveller listings as well which may be just as badly written, full of mistakes, generally misleading and badly formatted -i.e. the same amount of work required.
I will not go on any longer as I will start repeating points already made in this discussion :) --Burmesedays 10:15, 26 November 2009 (EST)
If any of my questions were answered above already, could you repeat the key answers? As I'm very unsure they were.
My implied point on "how do we know" is "we won't have such problem in 99% of cases". Writing a review that looks very much like a traveler-written is a difficult job. Effectively this makes it too expensive for most touts, and they won't do that. As for "how to police"--by a thoughtful judgement and consensus, like we do already. I tried to do that for a series of articles already--see the link to my recent contribs above. And yes, nature and breadth of other contributions of a user does help in making a better judgement (i.e. business owner won't add any other businesses most of the time).
For the articles you are close to, try checking the listings which you know were self-added by a business owner against some other source of traveler recommendations. The easiest way (although not always very objective) is to check how high (or low) they are on TripAdvisor / Qype ratings for a destination, or (more valid way) check them at a respected local online/printed rating of restaurants / hotels. I bet all of them won't be on top most of the time--if listed at all. --DenisYurkin 10:39, 26 November 2009 (EST)
Are you really going to debate an get thoughtful concensus on every listing you think is added by a business owner? Like a vfd procedure for listings? That is surely impossible. Better I think to to just delete the touty ones with no useful information and to keep the ones with useful info and detout if necessary. Why is that so wrong?
On the articles I am close to I have done a huge amount of work on the format and quality of the listings and I do not really see the pattern you describe. If those articles had been left purely to traveller-only reviews they would be very empty and it must said, in some instances contain a lot of poor quality, misleading information. --Burmesedays 10:52, 26 November 2009 (EST)
Of course, I meant revert-discuss-reach a consensus cycle.
Let's make an experiment. Could you give an example of a very popular travel destination city (so it has really many reviewers at Tripadvisor) which you think the above pattern doesn't work for? Then we can check how many of top10 hotels (even if limited to the price range you give) according to TripAdvisor are listed in our article at Wikitravel--and where in TripAdvisor ratings are the hotels that we list (and thus recommend to our readers). --DenisYurkin 12:14, 26 November 2009 (EST)

OK, as the above idea to set up an experiment was not supported, I have a question.

What goal our listings should serve for a reader? Having a goal in hand, perhaps we could easier discuss how to achieve it. --DenisYurkin 19:26, 8 February 2010 (EST)


An experiment on Rome hotels[edit]

After nuking many of the hotels with touting descriptions in Rome few months ago where I was based entirely on description tone, now I've got some time to research the hotels listings in Rome districts more carefully.

Here is my first finding, on Esquilino-San_Giovanni.

After I removed yellow-pagish "Cap: 00185, Rome, Italy" pieces from addresses [2], I checked TripAdvisor on how good that businesses are rated. Here is what I've found:

  • Ariana B&B Rome: #807 (terrible prevailing)
  • Bella Beatrice B&B: not rated; only one mention in TA forums: [3]
  • La Casa di Amy B & B Rome: (34 exc, 37 very good--but the description was clearly flowery) -- the only listing that is definitely worth keeping
  • Panoramic Hostel Rome: not rated at all; no mention in forums
  • B&B Sergio Rome: #635; equal number of every ranking (but too view rankings after all) -- not too much reasons for keeping, but also no strong reason for deleting

So out of 5 listings, 3 should be definitely nuked, 1 is not-so-sure and only 1 should be kept.


Also, I checked those two hotels which have "Rome" in their name (which also may suggest that they were copy-pasted and/or added by business owners, and purely-facts-only descriptions suggest that they were originally touting, and de-touted later: Hotel Center and Hotel Taormina. Here is how rankings are distributed at TripAdvisor for them:

  • Hotel Center Rome: #552 (30 very good, 50 average, 25 poor, 18 terrible) -- looks like a valid reason to remove
  • Hotel Taormina Rome: #288 (18 very good; 9 excellent; 10 average) -- this one can be kept.

So here it's 50% - 50%, although I admit that here we can't make any conclusions from only 2 listings.

Can someone demonstrate the opposite--when added-by-owner business is ranked high in whatever user-generated ranking, or when added-by-real-traveler lively listing is ranked poorly in whatever else reputable source? --DenisYurkin 17:32, 18 February 2010 (EST)

Hmm, without having looked up any examples myself, I would be quick to delete tout-added listings with poor online reviews, and slow to delete traveler-added reviews, at least until the guide is well filled with good hotel listings. --Peter Talk 19:43, 18 February 2010 (EST)
Peter's rule of thumb is smart I think. I would also take into account a few other factors such as making sure the balance of property styles is maintained. As Denis intimates, to draw any valid conclusions we would need a large sample. There are though certainly some listings in various Bali articles where the traveller added property is not up to much and the business added example is a well-rated, excellent option. It is also not always easy to tell for sure which listings have been added by a traveller and which not. --Burmesedays 20:55, 18 February 2010 (EST)
Peter, here I'm more focused on challenging the whole "self-added listings are good, or at least do no harm" status quo (than pruning the individual article, for example). We never check third-party ratings for the edits we patrol, and very unlikely we will. (or the opposite is exactly your point?)
Burmesedays, as for large sample: do you have an idea in hand on how we can prepare that larger sample--or how else can we achieve valid conclusion?
On Bali, could you provide your examples (as many as possible) of when business-added listings are well-rated, and the traveler-added is definitely not?
As for telling who wrote the description, our de-touting practice contributes much to removing that distinction. My rule of thumb is that traveler-added clearly reflect personal opinions/experience and have some point of view, while self-added reflect the "we are perfect for everyone" idea or only state pure facts limited to location, number of rooms and the like. --DenisYurkin 00:42, 19 February 2010 (EST)

I wonder if anyone here can provide good examples of listings self-added by businesses that are well-rated by some respected third party, like TripAdvisor for example (or at least for which some wikitraveler here can confirm by his own experience that the place was really great and worth listing at Wikitravel). We don't need absolutely sure it was realy added by a business--but if it looks so, that's fine for now.

Because if we have only half a dozen of such examples for the whole Wikitravel history, I'm seriously going to insist (in 2 weeks from now) on changing the current policy on whether businesses are allowed to add themselves as listing, and/or to write descriptions for their own listing. --DenisYurkin 08:45, 22 February 2010 (EST)

Specific examples with Bali are difficult Denis as I have personally edited virtually everyone one of the many hundreds of listings we have (bar a small handful from other established Wikitravelers who know how to write a listing). The bad listings added by travellers have already been deleted along with the bad ones added by business owners. Off the top of my head, I would say the ratio was about 1 to 4 - more bad ones by business owners as you would expect.
I could give you a long list though that are good, worthwhile listings that were added by business owners. No doubt they all needed re-writing and reformatting to some extent, but still good places to sleep, eat, drink or shop at. You cant assume that only the owners of bad options bother to list here.
You also asked about testing a larger sample. I have no idea how to structure such a test, it was merely an observation about validity. --Burmesedays 09:29, 22 February 2010 (EST)
Yes, please share the "long list of businesses that are good, worthwhile listings that were added by business owners". It will definitely help. And thanks for clarifying your point on a larger sample. --DenisYurkin 11:54, 22 February 2010 (EST)

On-wiki attitude..[edit]

I'd like to pull out one point here, to see if there is a chance of a quick consensus.

I would like to add a line to this article, saying that Wikitravelers may draw conclusions about a business based on the behaviour of the business owner on the wiki.

There have been a couple of instances recently, that I have encountered, one is with the representative of the backpackers car market in Buying or renting a car in New Zealand, another is with the cruisewhitsundays DOT net in Airlie Beach, and other articles. In both cases they have removed competitors and added their own listings. In the second case they have on several occasions deliberately sabotaged their competitors by invalidating the url link. They have engaged in edit warring, removing comments, whitewashing, and replacing official links with their own, etc. In the case of the former business a quick search will reveal quite a few travel blogs with unfavorable comments.

My point is, based on their behaviour here, I would never do business with them. If they engage in dodgy practices on the wiki, I wouldn't hesitate to draw a conclusion on dealing with them in real life.

I'm not saying that we should ban them, but when we are looking for a few good business to recommend, surely we should take this into account, and say so on this page? --inas 22:00, 17 December 2009 (EST)

Sounds good. Did you have any specific verbiage in mind? I'd suggest something such as "Wikitravelers will often assume that business owners that operate fairly and openly on Wikitravel are likely to do the same with their patrons; the opposite conclusion will usually be drawn for businesses that choose to violate Wikitravel's policies and guidelines." -- Ryan • (talk) • 22:23, 17 December 2009 (EST)
If I'm following Inas' reasoning correctly, I think the next sentence would be, "Accordingly, they are more likely to be dropped from our lists of recommended businesses." That should, however, probably be phrased a bit more tactfully. --Peter Talk 22:38, 17 December 2009 (EST)
Well, I'm happy with that combined phrasing. But my suggested phrasing is..
"Contributing quality and useful travel information to our guide will hopefully reflect positively on your business. The community may decide that a business that works cooperatively on Wikitravel would be a good business to patronise when travelling.
On the other hand touting, engaging in edit wars, or changing competitor information may also reflect negatively on your business. The community only want good businesses to appear in our guides, and may decide on this basis that your business is not appropriate to list."
--inas 23:21, 17 December 2009 (EST)


I only want to make it clear that a business owner can't "buy" a position in the listings by behaving properly AND EVEN contributing much useful content to Wikitravel. Wikitravel should recommend businesses primarily basing on how great they are as a place to stay / eat / undertake activities--not on how well they help Wikitravel on creating a useful content. --DenisYurkin 11:48, 18 December 2009 (EST)
Nobody needs to buy a position. Any business owner whose business meets WT inclusion guidelines can place a listing here. So making it clear that the business owner should behave and encouraging other useful content has to be a good thing.--Burmesedays 12:00, 18 December 2009 (EST)
Some day, for any given destination, editors need to choose which businesses to leave in order to make a list reach a reasonable size. I oppose the idea that a business which is mediocre in accommodation/cooking but contributed much to Wikitravel content is granted a "keep in a shortened listing", while excellent in cooking/accommodation but never adding a bit to Wikitravel would have less "points" and therefore removed. --DenisYurkin 12:30, 18 December 2009 (EST)
In my experience here I think the point is more that we often don't know which businesses are better than others, and in the absence of any other useful criteria, knowing that the owner works well with the community often influences whether or not we think they will operate fairly with travelers. As an example, based solely on his interactions here I would have no qualms about visiting User:WineCountryInn's business. That said, if the business turned out to be terrible then removal of the listing would be justified. -- 12:51, 18 December 2009 (EST)
For popular destinations, frequently there are many (or at least some) user-generated content: mentions in blogs and forums, reviews at TripAdvisor and other similar sites, Google Maps user data which looks like user liked it etc etc. But I'm fine if it sound clear "if we tried everything (including the above) and still don't have any criteria (like we found no mentions or customer reviews), then your behavior at Wikitravel will (also) count". --DenisYurkin 13:24, 18 December 2009 (EST)

I don't want to get too sidetracked here. The reality is that businesses generally get a listing here if they follow our formatting polices, they are acceptable business types, and they can string together a reasonable text. If we decide to remove a listing, we currently decide on the information in the listing, and the quality of the entry.

My proposal is let business owners know that wikitravellers may use on-wiki behaviour of businesses to draw conclusions about a business - and maybe the community may decide not to list a business that sabotages a competitor listing, for example. I'm not proposing any change in how we select listings, that part is unchanged, and certainly no guarantee of a listing for those who contribute.

If we don't this consensus then the outcome will the status quo - which isn't to use blogs or tripadvisor - it is to list pretty much everything which complies with Wikitravel:External links and Wikitravel:Accommodation listings, and when a business owner breaches every policy there is, sabotages other entries, edit wars, doesn't communicate, and takes pot shots at others, we still give them a listing, as long as they eventually provide one that is correctly formatted. What a recommendation! --inas 22:20, 20 December 2009 (EST)

Why not just add something "However, no guarantee of a listing for those who contribute." in the end of the phrase? As without adding that, the high risk of reading it as the opposite is implied (i.e. contribution guarantees listing). --DenisYurkin 16:04, 21 December 2009 (EST)
Happy to do that. Any other outstanding issues? --inas 18:35, 21 December 2009 (EST)
At least not from me, as your above "What a recommendation!" sounded very convincing for me :-). Thanks for that, it really helped! --DenisYurkin 13:49, 22 December 2009 (EST)
Thanks for the addition [4], it's really great! --DenisYurkin 17:41, 19 January 2010 (EST)

only one mention per establishment[edit]

I wonder if two mentions of Louvre is contrary to our "only one mention per establishment" here: Paris/1st arrondissement#Landmarks and Paris/1st arrondissement#Museums and Galleries. --DenisYurkin 17:39, 27 November 2010 (EST)

more on adding by business owners[edit]

More suggestions on how to deal with busines onwers adding listings on their businesses (at least for cases when it's clear that it was added by business owner):

  1. Require clear price range (criteria need to be defined). I.e. adding a listing with no price set whatsoever (or with very general "rooms start from $xx") can be reverted
  2. Either avoid any subjective or non-factual characteristics at all, or provide a fair summary of existing first-hand reviews as published on some travel review site; link to list of reviews should be provided in edit summary to verify that the summary is not biased.

Opinions? --DenisYurkin 06:20, 16 December 2010 (EST)

A "review" by a business owner of their own business is useless. While we continue to allow business owners to add their own businesses, they should stick to the objective facts, and include the price. --inas 07:10, 16 December 2010 (EST)
I would say that "rooms start from $xx" is minimal but acceptable; a lot of hotels have suites that go up into the thousands per night but including them in the range would skew the apparent average price level. LtPowers 09:01, 16 December 2010 (EST)
Instead of "rooms start from $xx", I would expect "double in season starts from $xx". This is much more helpful in comparing hotels to each other for most readers most of the time. --12:48, 16 December 2010 (EST)
IMHO For every "from" there must be a "to". "From" prices are usually worthless because every buisiness owner will advertise the price of the broom closet in low season if you let him. Also room prices have to be high season prices unless otherwise mentioned (usually so in other travel guides). What about making wikitravel a guide for travellers by travellers and completely ban advertising by business owners in any form? No more mr. nice guy, no detouting, just plain delete it when it is obvious. And remove all chains from it as well, everybody will find McD if they want to, but to find a good local business is getting more and more difficult these days. Sure it would take a little longer, but i am convinced wikitravel can cope with the small loss by now. Swissbelg 14:01, 24 December 2010 (EST)
But what does a range like "$130-$2,540" tell you, really? LtPowers 16:13, 28 December 2010 (EST)


It tells me something is fishy. It tells me not to go there unless i checked what's the deal first. A range of $130-160 would tell me it looks ok ;-) Swissbelg 07:36, 29 December 2010 (EST)
So why should we require hotels to include information that makes them look fishy? LtPowers 11:50, 1 January 2011 (EST)
I think it would only make the ones fishy that ARE fishy, no? Swissbelg 10:09, 2 January 2011 (EST)
I don't think so. I'm exaggerating slightly with my example because we don't usually include the cost of suites, but some hotels can have quite a wide range of prices depending on season, size of room, and level of service. LtPowers 19:52, 2 January 2011 (EST)
So they should state that. And about the season i already mentioned that prices shoud be peak seson prices (like in most travel guides). For most people the price of the broom closet in winter is of no significance, and that is exactly what most hotel owners will write down if you let them. Unfortunately. Swissbelg 17:09, 3 January 2011 (EST)

Attempt to refine my original proposal:

  1. Require clear price range. Should include price range for double in a high season time. If several types of doubles available (i.e. Standard, Plus, Premium, Comfort etc), specify for most typically sought for by an average traveler considering the hotel--typically most basic type. Price range for mid-season and off-season for same type of accommodation is preferred. Ranges for more premium types can be added only if each of the above ranges is defined clearly. Any range should have from and to.
    Adding a listing with no price set whatsoever (or too general like "rooms start from $xx") will be reverted.
  2. Include only objective facts in description; avoid any subjective considerations and characteristics (even if you attempt to summarize many first-hand reviews from a reputable travel review site).

More comments please? --DenisYurkin 17:31, 3 January 2011 (EST)

I think requiring listings to show busy-season prices as the default is a bad idea and doesn't give the traveler a good idea of the actual costs. LtPowers 21:08, 3 January 2011 (EST)
How would you propose to change this piece? --DenisYurkin 01:34, 4 January 2011 (EST)
Why not? Most people have to travel in busy season, that's why it's called that way, and all travelguides i know of do so. And for the "from-to" part: Any other toughts on how to prevent a hotel owner who has 1 basic room for 40$, 45 rooms for 65$, and a suite for 1200$ from writing "rooms from 40$..." ? Because i am not ok with that. Swissbelg 09:36, 4 January 2011 (EST)
The listing in such a case should read $40-65. If it doesn't, then it's generally a subjective matter of deciding how poor the listing is in relation to the rest of the article. A poor quality hotel listing with not much information in a good article can often just be removed, while it might be good to keep in an article with no other listed sleep accommodations. We have discussed this in various locations, but a good summary is at Wikitravel_talk:Accommodation_listings#Tout_spammers.
I think in this case it should state $65. Nothing else. Swissbelg 07:17, 6 January 2011 (EST)
I think that flexible guidelines like those at Wikitravel:Accommodation_listings#Pruning_accommodation_lists are ultimately more useful in combating abuse by business owners, as they take into account the fact that business owners, while a common challenge for WT editors, often do contribute something of use. --Peter Talk 23:48, 4 January 2011 (EST)
Thanks for commenting and the links, Peter.
First, looks like I personally need a clear guideline to refer to (and a distinctive keyword for it) for referring to when reverting a listing that doesn't comply (and believe I'm not alone). Referring to a guideline for editors on how to prune is good for editors, but won't work for a business owner touting his business.
Second, I feel it's better to give business owners a guideline to respect our goals in the first place (and make it their responsibility to contribute complying listings) rather that to add burden on editors on how to later fix guides after "tremendous efforts" by many touts.
Third, I'm OK with fixing the above text proposed with something like "Non-compliant listings may be kept on editors discretion, typically only for destinations where there are too few alternatives listed so far (but can be removed later as more first-hand reviews are added)".
As for Tout Spammers discussion, had it led to any change/addition to the policies and rules? --DenisYurkin 17:34, 5 January 2011 (EST)
Would you care to split your proposal above so we can discuss the two parts separately? Personally - I'm not fussed about how we list prices - the discussion above shows how yield management, discounting and seasonality makes hotel accommodation prices really difficult to manage. However, I think we have reached the point now that we need an explicit statement to business owners stating that they may only list objective facts about their businesses. "Reviews" by business owners won't be accepted. --inas 18:11, 5 January 2011 (EST)

reviews by business owners[edit]

I'm fine with postponing discussion on price ranges, if the matter is not as trivial as it seems to me. As for "reviews by business owners won't be accepted" part -- no objections from anyone? --DenisYurkin 18:24, 5 January 2011 (EST)
Nope, not to me. Swissbelg 07:17, 6 January 2011 (EST)
Done splitting. Feel free to re-organize responses accordingly (not sure I haven't missed anything in my 1st attempt. --DenisYurkin 15:44, 7 January 2011 (EST)

I certainly agree with Peter, that we have to allow for exceptions in the cases he mentioned. I don't see a problem with stating that explicitly. A policy like Business owners should only include objective, verifiable information about their businesses, and should not write reviews or include subjective information where they may have a conflict of interest. We can then put a cover-all at the end, saying that in certain articles, for the overall benefit of the guide editors may decide to make exceptions in areas where obtaining information is difficult. --inas 17:38, 6 January 2011 (EST)

First attempt with Don't tout: [5]; didn't include the "guide may decide to make exception" as it doesn't fit here, as I can see.
Any ideas where else we should reflect the change on objective-only from business owners? --DenisYurkin 19:22, 28 January 2011 (EST)


price ranges[edit]

Why are you guys so affraid of forcing business owners to advertise their real prices? Swissbelg 07:17, 6 January 2011 (EST)
I think we basically already do (although forcing is the wrong term—we can't exactly force the world of business owners to do anything; we only clean up/revert bad edits). Wikitravel:Don't_tout#Guidelines_for_business_owners makes it clear that business owners need to include pricing. I've been leaving a "Welcome, hotel touts" message on touts' talk pages for years explaining that I will revert additions that lack price ranges (this has actually been very effective—we have virtually shut down once enormous problems with U.S. chain hotels and Italian hotel touts).
What I don't want is to force good editors' hands in dealing with touts. I think we should be allowed the flexibility to clean up a bad hotel listing, or even to ignore the faults and leave it alone—if it is an interesting and worthwhile addition to, say, a very weak and neglected article. For example, if an owner of a really interesting historic B&B leaves a weak listing in a neglected/unknown article like Haciqabul, I personally would either clean that up, or leave it alone if I didn't have the time or motivation. --Peter Talk 11:19, 6 January 2011 (EST)
My concern involves hotels with legitimately wide price ranges. For example, the All-Star Movies Resort at Walt Disney World has standard rooms for $82 in the off-season, but it also has "family suites" (which just add a small bedroom with bunk beds in it to the basic layout) which can go as high as $355 the week after Christmas. That's more than a four-fold range of prices. If you don't like the inclusion of even basic suites such as that one, take the Contemporary Resort; it's basic rooms go as low as $285 and its deluxe rooms go as high as $860. I don't want to be forced to list $860 in the Contemporary's listing because that would scare off a lot of people who probably could afford the hotel just fine. LtPowers 16:10, 6 January 2011 (EST)
I thought it was already policy for the price range to cover the price for a standard double (for two people). --Peter Talk 18:16, 6 January 2011 (EST)
Do you mean Wikitravel:Accommodation listings#price? Or if you know a more detailed requirement, could you please share a link to it? --DenisYurkin 19:51, 28 January 2011 (EST)
Yes, but I was referring primarily to Swissbelg's suggestion that only the highest (peak-season) standard-room price should be listed. Also, I'm not sure we ever resolved the question of whether a room with a particular view (the primary difference between the rooms I quoted for the Contemporary) counts as a non-standard room. LtPowers 09:38, 7 January 2011 (EST)
My last proposal was to include at least the peak-season prices for at least standard room. However if you feel it's fair to also list mid-season prices, why not also adding them just after peak-season? --DenisYurkin 19:51, 28 January 2011 (EST)
Disney has five price seasons (see Walt Disney World#Sleep). I fear that level of detail would be excessive. LtPowers 20:46, 28 January 2011 (EST)
Then we should stick to "min to max" range for seasons, defined at least for the most typical/massive type of rooms. Does it work for WDW? --DenisYurkin 03:52, 29 January 2011 (EST)
I'm not clear on what you're proposing; can you give an example? LtPowers 16:50, 29 January 2011 (EST)
I think I'm fine with current WDW info like "Prices (one room, two adults and two children) range from $149/night for a standard room in the value season to $250/night for a preferred room during Christmas week". The original idea was that for any given destination hotels should be fairly comparable to each other price-wise for most travellers in most cases. As long as for WDW value..christmas range is defined for a most typical room (which can be "room sleeping 2 adults + 2 children") for every accommodation listed, the idea is fully implemented. --DenisYurkin 16:43, 6 May 2011 (EDT)
Well, I guess what I'm asking is, are the listings at Walt Disney World/Magic Kingdom#Sleep acceptable under your proposed guidelines, or would they have to be modified? And if the latter, modified how? LtPowers 19:50, 6 May 2011 (EDT)
Currently it's unclear which part of the range depends on season, and which on room type. If they all imply "price for a most typical room for this hotel", then that should be stated explicitly in the intro paragraph, while ranges like "$280-$2,900" should ideally split into "peak season: $2,200-$2900; value season: $1,200-$1,400; off-season: $280-$450" (or something like that--have no idea how seasons are called in WDW). Does it sound realistic to achieve and useful for traveler? --DenisYurkin 17:01, 27 May 2011 (EDT)
Well, it'd be a bit of a pain, and I think it's going into more detail than our guidelines previously required, but I agree it would be useful for the traveler. LtPowers 15:26, 28 May 2011 (EDT)

@Swissbelg - i'm not afraid of making businesses list prices. For businesses that have a fixed price, like a ferris wheel, the price should definately be there. For businesses with many different products, and that run yield management to set their prices, what do we do? Naked Bus in NZ included fares from $1 in just about every article in NZ. True, they have one seat on every bus for $1. The next set of seats may be $50, the next $100. --inas 17:38, 6 January 2011 (EST)

IMHO they should advertize prices as from 1$ to 100$. Or state that most seats are 50$. I would remove any "fares from 1$" advertisements (that's what they are). Over here in europe we call this "Bauernfängerei" (dupery). Swissbelg 11:53, 7 January 2011 (EST)

Another attempt to reach consensus on too many options available sometimes: what if we require to list at least prices for the most massive(?) room type--i.e. if a hotel has 20 Standards, 30 WithView and 10 Suites, list at least WithView--and we won't mind if less popular Standards are also listed after that?

Again, at least for peak season--but OK to also include mid- or off-season after peak-season prices. --DenisYurkin 19:51, 28 January 2011 (EST)

URL counts..[edit]

Just out of interest, I gathered a list of all extlinks on wikitravel.

I put all urls that are mentioned more than 50 times in a list in order here [6]. It certainly seems like ultimately our spamming friends from the big chains are being very successful. Personally, I'm not sure we need 1000 Marriott hotels listed on WT, or that they are all so different as to need separate listings for each. --Inas 19:56, 28 November 2011 (EST)

Does that list include Colin's hotel bot pages in his userspace? He used to run a spider that scraped hotel web sites back in the day when lack of hotel entries was a major problem on Wikitravel, and if those pages are included it is probably skewing the results significantly. -- Ryan • (talk) • 20:21, 28 November 2011 (EST)
No, just the main namespace, no talk, wt, or user namespaces. --Inas 21:44, 28 November 2011 (EST)
From my anecdotal perspective, over the years the top three there have been prolific to the point of abuse, and I'd be happy to see their listings culled, if not purely punitively, then to at least restore some balance. At the very least, I think their hotels should be first to go when culling overly long lists, or removing weak listings. --Peter Talk 02:18, 29 November 2011 (EST)
So now we're penalizing chains for being too big? I don't see any reason we should cull a Marriott listing from a particular article just because it's Marriott, especially if it's one of the more popular hotels in that destination. That violates our be fair principle, as it shows us to have a bias toward smaller operations. LtPowers 10:34, 29 November 2011 (EST)
There are two things here.
Firstly, fairness may sometimes be accomplished by affirmative action. Why should an organisation that employs someone to add their listings 1000 times over get more space on WT? Our Be Fair principle may demand that we have a deliberate bias to redress this.
Secondly, from a purely traveler comes first perspective, just like we list the national car hire chains in the top level articles to save mentioning them in every single individual article, perhaps we best deal with the mega-chains in the same way. Particlarly in the USA article, we just say Mariott, etc have hotels in most major US cities. Motel 6, Days Inn, Choice Hotels, have motels of various grades scatter all across the country. To what benefit is it really to have these business added chains duplicated in 1000 destination guides? --Inas 17:16, 29 November 2011 (EST)
They're not duplicated, that's why. Every property is different. Many destinations don't have anything but large chains that have any quality to speak of. A properly curated selection of hotels is of value no matter how big the organizations are running them. Consider how sparse Saint Marys (Pennsylvania)#Sleep would be if we removed the Best Western and Comfort Inn listings. LtPowers 07:54, 30 November 2011 (EST)


Mariott have effectively done a bulk import of their properties by stealth. Should I say that in order to Be Fair we should invite the other major chains to bulk import all their propeties? Is that our goal, to have these bulk imports of chains?
"Properly curated selection of hotels" are we on the same site, here?! --Inas 14:42, 30 November 2011 (EST)
Sometimes I don't think we are. You worry about spammers and touts, while I'm worried about losing legitimate listings for out-of-the-way destinations with few other options. I understand the frustration with useless advertisement-laden listings, but all too often the proposed solution is to throw the good out with the bad. LtPowers 20:47, 1 December 2011 (EST)
I wouldn't be in support of tossing all chain listings, but it might not be hard to come up with a list of every chain listing that either a) has no description or b) has a description that contains "our", "close to", or any other keywords that identify marketing fluff. Provided there are other hotels listed in the article it wouldn't hurt to kill those off. -- Ryan • (talk) • 21:03, 1 December 2011 (EST)
@LtPowers - My only concern is the legitimate listings. The limit of my concern with the spammers and touts is that that (possibly with the exception of the fifedoms) WT sleep listings are so hopelessly corrupted as to completely devalue the legitimate. As I've stated before, I like WT, and spend a bit of time here. I'm confident enough heading off the beaten track following nothing but the advice written by a few semi-anonymous contributors to a Wiki, and it rarely fails. But I would never in a million years trust accommodation mentioned on this site - any of it. A bit of overshoot taking out some of the good with the bad is my preferred option to what we have currently. Our sleep listings are being chipped away from both ends, the large marketing depts are loading up the chains, and the dodgy operators are spamming the low end. We must be the laughing stock of both groups. --Inas 21:39, 1 December 2011 (EST)
I guess I don't know what to say. I try very hard to write fair and accurate hotel listings, whether the hotel is an enormous chain, a privately-owned franchise, a luxury resort, or a bed-and-breakfast. I think that's the essence of Wikitravel:Be fair, and I would hate to see one of those listings removed simply because of who owns the property. LtPowers 14:12, 2 December 2011 (EST)
And I would hate to see it ignored because every other one of the accommodation listings is corporate spam, endorsed by the WT community. --Inas 21:32, 2 December 2011 (EST)

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