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Difference between revisions of "Talk:United States of America"

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(Disease too PC?)
(Disease too PC?)
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The above discussion made me read over the "Disease" section and I notice it says "the HIV rate — especially among gay men, IV drug users, sex workers, and certain ethnic minority groups", so... I was wondering why exactly we suddenly get vague with "certain ethnic minority groups"? When talking HIV, I don't think most people want to have to guess or infer. It is African-Americans that are being referenced here, correct? Can we just say this? Are there others (it's plural)? [[User:ChubbyWimbus|ChubbyWimbus]] 04:07, 24 January 2011 (EST)
The above discussion made me read over the "Disease" section and I notice it says "the HIV rate — especially among gay men, IV drug users, sex workers, and certain ethnic minority groups", so... I was wondering why exactly we suddenly get vague with "certain ethnic minority groups"? When talking HIV, I don't think most people want to have to guess or infer. It is African-Americans that are being referenced here, correct? Can we just say this? Are there others (it's plural)? [[User:ChubbyWimbus|ChubbyWimbus]] 04:07, 24 January 2011 (EST)
: HIV risk has nothing to do with race, but rather with behavior.  I think this we are wandering into [obvious] territory if we cap every article with a reminder to use condoms.  Sexually transmitted diseases are also addressed under the gay/lesbian section of this article. I may go in and consolidate things a bit...
: HIV risk has nothing to do with race, but rather with behavior.  I think this we are wandering into [obvious] territory if we cap every article with a reminder to use condoms.  Sexually transmitted diseases are also addressed under the gay/lesbian section of this article. I may go in and consolidate things a bit...[[User:SONORAMA|SONORAMA]] 05:37, 24 January 2011 (EST)

Revision as of 10:41, 24 January 2011

This page is for discussing the corresponding article or guide. For questions, comments, or personal stories about this destination or topic, visit Wikitravel Extra. For more about using talk pages check out Wikitravel:Using talk pages.

Talk is all well and good. But it's no substitute for fixing this article, which is bloated and rambling. Let's just do it. We can always undo mistakes.

Archived discussions on this page can be found at:


languages etc.

More American people speak Chinese than Hawaiian so I added it. Also, Mormonism does not classify as a Christian religion regardless of what the fed. govt. says, what you read or people say. —The preceding comment was added by (talkcontribs)

I don't want to get into a religious battle, so since the source of that data is the CIA World Factbook, I've updated it to stay in sync with their data. -- Ryan • (talk) • 10:26, 22 February 2010 (EST)

geography is wrong

All top ten peaks lie in Alaska. There are more than 3 major mtn. ranges. The great lakes do not form most of the border between the USA and Canada AND the Rocky mts. start in Canada... I changed these incorrect blunders only to find them changed back.—The preceding comment was added by (talkcontribs)

What, pray tell, would be the fourth major mountain range in North America? And the article doesn't say "most of the border", it says "much of the border", which is indisputably true. LtPowers 08:24, 16 March 2010 (EDT)
There's the Appalachian, Rocky, & Pacific Coastal (Sierra Nevada & Cascade) mountain ranges. The only other mountain ranges in the country are the Adirondacks (considered by some to be part of the Appalachians), Ozarks (considered to be a "Highlands" region, not mountain range), & Brooks Range (northern Alaska). The Rocky Mountains start in ALASKA...which includes Mount McKinley; however, the Alaskan section is often referred to as the Alaska Range. Most consider the Sierra Nevada & Cascades to form a single range. That leaves just the Brooks range...since it's in the middle of nowhere and not particularly tall, I don't think it would be considered a "major" mountain range. AHeneen 22:49, 16 March 2010 (EDT)
Well, the Adirondacks are a different geological formation than the Appalachians, but even I, a native New Yorker, wouldn't call them "major". =) LtPowers 07:19, 17 March 2010 (EDT)

So you are telling me the Alaskan-Canadian border and the entire intl. border running from Washington state to Minnesota is formed by the Great Lakes? okay there. There are mtn. ranges in the middle of the country (AR, MO, OK) too considered separate from the other 3. This page seems to be taken over and dominated by a net "keeper" who can't seem to understand proper input. Check wikipedia yourself on where the Rocky Mts. start (in Canada). I'll take my edits elsewhere where they are put to good use as this is a losing battle until the site is democratized.. annoying. The Brooks range is higher than the Applachians and just because its remote does not make non important. Hawaii the big island is the largest free standing mtn. in the world.

—The preceding comment was added by (talkcontribs)

American Indian title

the vast majority of the indigenous community has no problem with being called or calling themselves American Indians! However Native Americans can encompass more than American Indians- remove this p.c. bias comment that means nothing to the traveler. This article should not show bias. —The preceding comment was added by (talkcontribs)

Can you be more specific about what you want removed? LtPowers 08:24, 16 March 2010 (EDT)

"America was once populated by people who are believed to have migrated from northeast Asia. In the United States their descendants are known by uncomfortable appellations such as Native Americans, or American Indians. While the Indians are often portrayed living a singular, usually primitive lifestyle, in fact, prior to European arrival, the continent was densely populated with sophisticated societies..."

Okay first of all, the American Indians are still here, the culture alive and well, they may form a small min. of the majority pop. of the USA but they are still here! so why does it start off this way as if they were all wiped out and only live in the past? The manner in which the paragraph is written is so P.C. it ends up insulting the very people it wishes to respect! "Uncomfortable apellations"? Again this is the current name of the ethnic group and what Native American tribes call themselves! The American Indian Nations call themselves this so how can it be uncomfortable? That is there name! As a matter of fact American Indians are proud of the fact that they name starts with American first. Most Am. Indians were portrayed by stereotype in media but I don't thnk this is entirely the case today in people's minds today... Lastly we know for a fact that Native America has its roots in Central and East Asia. There is full proof DNA evidence now and tons of cultural evidence as well. They came to the Americas in 3 waves.

—The preceding comment was added by (talkcontribs)


While the current Culture section:

"Because of its size and because its citizens are descended from diverse immigrants, there is no single universal American culture. Visitors to the South will find a far different culture from those traveling to California or New York City."

is less than ideal (not all that informative and overstates the case somewhat), I'm not sure that this is necessary either. I neither want to revert it to the old inadequacy nor let this behemoth of an essay remain. Thoughts? LtPowers 18:48, 22 April 2010 (EDT)

Long-winded edits tend to get reverted from this article - in the past we were fairly lenient about people who wanted to editorialize about America, but in the end it became a huge task to edit the article back down to something usable for travel. In this case I'd say pare this edit down to a paragraph if possible, otherwise remove it with a note that this a travel guide and not a treatise on American idealism. -- Ryan • (talk) • 19:02, 22 April 2010 (EDT)

I do not understand why my "behemoth of an essay" keeps getting deleted. First of all, it's not that long compared to the History section (they are about equivalent), and, second of all, why it could be improved it is relatively thorough and informative. If I were visiting the United States, I would find this essay interesting as it dips into a lot of the major facets of American culture that one will inevitably encounter when entering the states. Why are we pressed for space?-- Morgog

I trimmed it down as it was 1) relatively political and thus bound to be a magnet for edit wars, and 2) of little relevance to travel. Culture in the US is of interest to travelers (obviously) but attempts to generalize it at the country level invariably turn into long-winded messes - everyone in the world knows that the US is a bastion of capitalism, so how much really needs to be said? Similarly, we all share national pride, but that is true of most countries. Effort on this subject is likely better spent in the articles for smaller regions; for example, New Orleans or San Francisco clearly have unique cultures that visitors may not be familiar with, but at the country level this tends to be a subject that doesn't need a lot of explanation. -- Ryan • (talk) • 19:34, 22 April 2010 (EDT)
What is left says nothing but the culture is diverse, and I just said that it three words. The current para is a waste of words in this article. --inas 19:51, 22 April 2010 (EDT)
I disagree; culture in the U.S. may be diverse compared to that within smaller nations like, say, Holland, but the differences between (say) San Francisco and Wichita are very small compared to that between the U.S. and Holland. Just saying "The U.S. is diverse" (or "Visitors to the South will find a far different culture from those traveling to California or New York City.") doesn't get that across. LtPowers 20:27, 22 April 2010 (EDT)
So are you disagreeing with me, or with the text, or with the original author? I think the current cultural observations reaches no useful conclusions for the traveler, and I certainly don't think the cultural rant is needed here. For what its worth, I don't even agree with the premise that there is significant cultural variation to the traveller This stuff (if required at all) is best left to the regional articles. And, as you point out, travelling around Europe the traveler will encounter significant cultural differences over small distances. After travelling around U.S. cities for a while, I find I quickly lose track of what part of the country I am in, especially in the areas popular with visitors. --inas 01:28, 23 April 2010 (EDT)
Much of the original edit is back now, and I still see it as something that adds little to a travel guide and that will be a magnet for political edits. Statements such as "Americans are generally distrustful of government" or "The country has a strong warrior culture" are likely to draw politically-minded edits, and while they may be true in the abstract they are highly debatable in actual practice. Given that in the many years it has been present the "Culture" section of this article has been little more than a point of contention, at this point I'd support removing it from this article rather than continuing to leave what is at best obvious ("The US is diverse culturally") and what is at worst editorializing on American values with little attention paid to the interests and needs of a traveler. -- Ryan • (talk) • 01:38, 23 April 2010 (EDT)
I don't think the topic is inherently unwriteable, but we're agreed that Morgog's attempt goes too far. I'm removing it again. LtPowers 08:58, 23 April 2010 (EDT)
Morgog's version reads a bit like one of the competing narratives in the domestic battle to determine just what the U.S. is about, and will thus be a never-ending magnet for politicized edits. A culture section focusing on the tensions between the two major narratives could be interesting and have a very cohesive structure. E.g., a country with a "warrior culture" (need a better name than that), but also father of the international peace movement (Wilson, hippies, etc.);
What I don't agree with is that the understand section should be strictly limited to travel-relevance. I think it's the only section where we should have a little of something else. The tentativeness and dryness of the current version is the main reason why I think this article is borderline garbage—the history section is about the most simplistic and boring textbook-style recap I've ever seen... --Peter Talk 09:43, 23 April 2010 (EDT)
If it sounds like I'm saying that "Understand" should be "strictly limited to travel-relevance" then that wasn't my intention. It should however, be written with travelers in mind, and in the past we've had problems with the US article turning into editorials on domestic issues - see for example this discussion where the focus turned completely on how to present the current "red-blue" breakdown of Americans, delved into details of polling, ideological preference, etc, and it wasn't until User:Mark brought up an analogy with Swiss politics that everyone realized we were no longer writing with travelers in mind. Understand is one of my favorite sections in most articles, but the US article has strayed into encyclopedia territory and is (sadly) not one of our finer examples. -- Ryan • (talk) • 10:35, 23 April 2010 (EDT)

Morgog here. I would like to make a more comprehensive argument for renewing selective parts of my culture section. Few of my assertions are particularly subjective. Let me go through them one by one.

1. The Personal responsibility paragraph. It is an objective fact that US has been far more resistant to expanding social programs and the wellfare state than virtually all the other industrialized nations (especially those in Eastern and Western Europe and Canada). Obama did not even suggest a single-payer system as an option for healthcare reform, something that virtually every other industrialized country has already done. What does that tell you about our culture objectively? This makes America different from many parts of the world and it is something that is worth knowing for a traveler.

2. Capitalism. It sort of goes without saying that Americans strongly support a capitalist system. Not a single major politician, Democrat or Republican, can touch a "socialist" label, and both political parties generally extol the virtues of market forces (these are objective facts). Even though it may seem obvious, some travelers might think the US is similar to Western Europe or Canada ideologically, although, as a whole, it is fairly different.

3. Distrustful of government. While this seems more subjective, skepticism of government is a major part of American culture, as has been pointed at by many politicians, Barack Obama and Senator McKlaskill included. Recently 4/5 Americans, in a Pew Poll, said they distrusted government. Not to say that it has always been an extreme distrust, but it is always been there. Look at the forces that drove Andrew Jackson to power in 1830. As a country, the US has objectively maintained its democracy for a remarkable length of time, and skepticism of government power has been a part of it. This does not mean that Americans do not believe in government programs or centralized authority, it just means that culturally they tend to be skeptical.

4. The strong warrior culture assertion is easy to validate. Yes, there has been a peace movement, but if you look at US history, 99% of the time the war side has won out. The country has almost always been at war, if you include Indian Wars (1st and 2nd seminole wars, etc.), frontier skirmishes, quiet but violent occupations of countries (the occupation of Haiti by the marines for nearly 15 years between World War 1 and World War 2), the Cold War, etc. When it hasn't been fighting with others the US has frequently been fighting with itself, look at the objective facts of the slave system, vigilante violence in the South up to the 1960s, the Civil War, etc.). Read about the prevalence of dueling in the South and West throughout the 1800s. And look at popular culture even recently. While violence has recently been fading out of popular culture, hip-hop from the 1980s through the early 2000s were saturated with violence and a nearly code duelo ethic not dissimilar from that found among the white cavaliers of the Old South. Listen to Toby Keith’s music. Listen to Obama's speech discussing the necessity of war. While not all Americans are pro-Iraq or pro-Afghanistan war, I think that, objectively, there exists a strong martial spirit in America that has continually expressed itself throughout our history. And, of course, look at the gun facts I posted. The amount of guns we voluntarily own is absolutely unbelievable (41% of total civilian-owned guns of world!). The country with the second highest civilian guns per capita amount is YEMEN!

5. The religious nature of the US is objective. One of my friends from France said that before she moved here she never mentioned she was a Jew, nor thought of herself as Jewish, because nobody discussed religion. When she came to the states, she found that virtually everyone she met was religious and, as a result, she started identifying herself as a Jew. This is objectively a significant part of our national life and culture that a traveler or immigrant, such as my friend from France, might find significant.

Okay, I agree the last two comments about the constitution being considered sacred and American exceptionalism are more subjective and difficult to prove, and thus I will not re-add those sections. Neverthleless, I think they can still pretty objectively be found to be true. Just listen to US political rhetoric, from both sides of the aisle. Obama has toned down the exceptionalist rhetoric of Bush, which may very well be a good thing, but it's still a part of the culture.

Okay, so that's my argument. The only want to repost my personal responsiblity, warrior culture, and religion paragraphs, adding up to 246 words, far shorter than both my last posts (I agree that the distrust of government, sacred constitution, and capitalism stuff is less necessary or relevant). I am fine with this post being tweaked or expanded to afterwards, but I would really appreciate it if it would not be deleted outright.



My criticisms of the changes still remain: I don't think they are being written in a way that appropriate for a travel guide, and I think they are targets for political edits. I won't rebut each one, but just looking at the first example, with protesters on one side currently screaming "keep government out of my Medicare" and the other side screaming about single payer and public options it's a tough argument that the US as a whole is resistant to government programs. I think that argument is irrelevant, however - to address this topic in a way that wouldn't invite political edits requires a level of detail that is inappropriate for a travel guide.
There is a potential for a great culture section to be written, but generalities about "warrior culture", "personal responsibility", etc doesn't seem to be it - we've gone down that road before, and ended up trimming it all out of the article after it became clear that it was too messy and added little to the article. A far stronger approach (IMHO) would be to write a few paragraphs about how the US culture has been shaped - immigration, westward expansion, slavery, etc, and even then I'm not sure how that could best be done without turning into a dumping ground for everyone's opinion on why the US is currently the way it is. -- Ryan • (talk) • 14:29, 23 April 2010 (EDT)

From Morgog again. Okay, I simply do not see how the information I put up there is not relevant to a traveler. My friend’s former girlfriend is from Quebec, and she saw 300 and thought it was utterly barbaric. Foreigners need to be given a context for understanding advertisements for TV shows like Spartacus: Blood and Sand. They want to know why growing up they watched Westerns and cop films imported from America. They need to know why there is an endless stream of actions films that come out of Hollywood, many of which glorify vigilantism and vilify the government (look Die Hard, Rambo, The Bourne Identity, Avatar, The Dark Knight). When they see protesters and politicians, both Republican and Democratic, in person and on the television, they need a context for understanding the references to “inalienable rights” and the “framers” etc. And, it’s simply not true that single-payer advocates have been a large part of the political discussion. They were completely excluded, and public option supporters are not the same. The public option is in line with Ameicans’ support for capitalism in that the goal is to create competition with private insurers to bring down costs through, essentially, market forces. And the majority of Americans are against the recent health care bill and, as a mentioned in my culture section, distrustful of government. If somebody comes to the US right now, they will, generally experience these things. I live in Massachusetts, and my family members include disenfranchised Democrats who have considered joining Tea Party protests, and Scott Brown was just elected as an anti-government establishment candidate in arguably the most liberal state in the nation. I really ask you to consider allowing my shortened culture section to stand, and, if need be, be a victim of an edit war. I would be interested to see how it is changed, but perhaps it won’t be. I’ve studied American political rhetoric and history, popular culture, etc. and while my culture section does not cover everything it covers many of the major points. Please consider letting the shortened version of my article stand.

I appreciate you have an interest in American culture. It is not uncommon. But I really think your commons would fit better in a blog post than a travel guide. --inas 19:34, 23 April 2010 (EDT)
Morgog, it's too long and gets too far into specifics. It needs to be more concise and more entertaining to read. LtPowers 20:29, 23 April 2010 (EDT)
And if we're talking here about health care reform and any tea parties other than the original Boston one, we've gone off the topic of travel writing in a bad way. --Peter Talk 15:38, 24 April 2010 (EDT)

Article is "too short"

I reverted an edit that has been removed several times now (note to anon: please read Wikitravel:Edit war). The editor in question made the comment that "this article is way too short", so I'd like to direct him/her to Talk:United States of America/Archive 2007#.22Culture.22_and_.22Respect.22_getting_too_long, which is one of many discussions that have led to the current policy of trimming this article's culture & respect sections whenever appropriate. -- Ryan • (talk) • 16:24, 28 May 2010 (EDT)

Push for guide status

Almost there! I'm too burnt out now after a day of pushing, but according to my admittedly subjective audit, the following articles need to be pushed to usable to bring the USA to guide status (which would make it the first ever guide-level country, excluding city states):

Hawaii: Kahului, Lihue, NaPali Coast, Waimea Canyon

Alaska: Gates of the Arctic National Park

Pacific Northwest: Mount Hood

Florida: Florida Keys

Hawaii, Alaska, and PN are just waiting for those sub-destinations to reach usable status before promotion, so that means we actually just need to push 6 articles to usable status in order to promote the USA article! --Peter Talk 16:42, 11 June 2010 (EDT)

I worked a bit on the Gates of the Arctic NP article. I don't think it's quite up to usable, but almost. Since I'm quite busy and may not have time to work on it soon, I've left an outline in the remaining sections (Get Aroud-Eat/Drink plus Stay Safe). If anyone's interested in finishing, it shouldn't take but 15-30 min to complete. Out of the NPS's website for the park, this page and this page will be most useful in completing the rest. AHeneen 01:32, 13 June 2010 (EDT)
Can I ask what are the requirements for a country (ie. the US) to reach guide status? If Hawaii, Alaska, & the Pacific NW all need their sub-destinations to be at "usable" status, then I think you overlooked Florida. One city (Panama City) and several of Florida's "other destinations" are only at "outline" status: Amelia Island, the Florida Keys, Gulf Islands National Seashore (which may be at usable), & Ocala National Forest. And then, what level must a region's (or state's) regions be at? All four of Florida's regions are only at outline. AHeneen 04:16, 15 June 2010 (EDT)
I also notice that our "See" section currently reads that there is absolutely nothing in this large mass of land to see. Itineraries are all that is there! Also, why are there only 7 cities in the Pacific Northwest? In order for the United States article to be at guide status, wouldn't every region have to be at usable status, which would mean that the states would have to be at usable status, which would mean that the state subregions would have to be at usable status? We're nowhere near that. ChubbyWimbus 04:50, 15 June 2010 (EDT)
That's what I thought. But since Peter brought this up, perhaps he can do the explaining. AHeneen 05:51, 15 June 2010 (EDT)
The relevant guides are at Wikitravel:Country guide status and Wikitravel:Region guide status. To make this simpler, here are the relevant requirements for guide status at the country level: Has links to the country's major cities and other destinations (usable status or better), a valid regional structure, and well developed prose in all the standard sections. All immediate subregions must be usable status or better.
1) Good catch re: "see" section—I missed that, and we'll need to fill that section out before promoting this article to guide.
2) Regions, as opposed to countries, have a slightly lower bar for usable status. The criteria is: Has links to the region's major cities and other destinations (the most important of which must be at usable status or better), and a Get in section describing all of the typical ways to get there. The most prominent attractions are identified with directions. So not all sub-destinations need to be at usable status—only the most important ones—and subregions do not have to be at usable status. For a region to be at guide status, that would indeed require that all sub-destinations and subregions are at least usable.
So yes, there is an extra element of subjectivity involved. I didn't actually check over Florida, as I thought it was all set for usable status, but it looks to me like at least the Keys article should be brought up to usable, so I've added that above to the checklist. I'm not sure the others you listed sound very important.
Lastly, only immediate subregions need to be at usable status for a country to reach guide status. Oklahoma is at outline status, but Great Plains is the immediate subregion, and it is usable.
Hope that clarifies things! --Peter Talk 20:06, 15 June 2010 (EDT)
Ah, and seven listed cities is more than acceptable—our policy is actually 5–9. In the PN case, it looks like an informed decision was made to limit the list to those seven cities. --Peter Talk 20:06, 15 June 2010 (EDT)
I started writing a "See" section, but ran out of gas -- I welcome anyone who wants to pick up where I left off. =) LtPowers 22:26, 15 June 2010 (EDT)
But if Oklahoma is only an outline, then the Great Plains region must be an outline, because Oklahoma is an immediate subregion of the Great Plains. And if the Great Plains is an outline, then the United States can't be a guide. The same is true for Vermont, and perhaps many states. It's a bottom-to-top structure, so I imagine the real issues with this as a guide lie with a lot of lower-level articles in the hierarchy throughout the country that perhaps haven't even been evaluated (or properly evaluated). ChubbyWimbus 02:13, 16 June 2010 (EDT)
There is nothing in Wikitravel:Region guide status that says Great Plains can't be "usable" just because Oklahoma is an outline. LtPowers 08:29, 16 June 2010 (EDT)
This sentence strikes me as odd: "So not all sub-destinations need to be at usable status—only the most important ones—and subregions do not have to be at usable status." Who decides which are the most important ones? In Florida we have the Panama City as an outline. One could argue that it is not "important", but if it isn't important, why is it listed in the 9 Cities list? This way we could argue that only Miami is "important" and ditch all the others. I'd say all the 9 Cities are important, as the sole reason they are listed there is because they are important. --globe-trotter 13:03, 16 June 2010 (EDT)
There is indisputably a measure of subjectivity involved in deciding which listed cities & ODs are the most important ones (and deciding requires either a bit of background knowledge or research). But the rule nonetheless strikes me as useful, especially towards the bottom of the hierarchy. For Montgomery County (Maryland), for example, is usable despite not having an article for Damascus (Maryland), and that seems fair, as the town is small, obscure, and not terribly important. If we are to take the term "usable" literally, it seems clear that the county guide is indeed usable"An adventurous person could use the article without recourse to other information sources"—despite lacking a usable guide to a minor destination that very few would visit. (Also note that requiring the main sub-destinations for usable status in a region article is actually fairly new, and is more strict than the prior requirements.)
Btw, this discussion should probably be moved to Wikitravel talk:Region guide status. --Peter Talk 21:57, 16 June 2010 (EDT)

I think we need higher standards for countries to be considered "guides". If we can have entire states as only outline articles, how can we say that the United States is really a "guide". We have good coverage of some major cities, but the U.S. is huge, and I think there are way too many gaps. All 50 states are directly linked to from this page beside their regions in parenthesis, and I like that, but they should all be up to a certain standard, in my opinion. Saying we have an entire "guide" to the United States of America is quite a bold statement that I don't think our actual coverage really justifies. ChubbyWimbus 04:57, 17 June 2010 (EDT)
A fair point. Perhaps we ought to get every state up to usable? LtPowers 09:09, 17 June 2010 (EDT)
We already have higher standards for countries to be at the guide level—all linked destinations need to be usable or better, rather than just the most important ones. I don't like the idea of requiring two levels of subregions to be at usable status—it seems ad hoc for the U.S. And is it really so crucial to have a well-developed guide to Oklahoma for visitors to the U.S., when hardly any international visitors ever go there? Most published USA guides would hardly mention the state, while we actually have well-developed guides to its principal destinations: Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Keep in mind the defining element of guide status: Not only would you not need to consult another guide, you'd really have no reason to want to: it's all here. There really is no reason to consult another guide—of the articles that I listed above, the ones that really do seem lacking are the Florida Keys and the Kauai destinations, while the others seem more of a formality per our existing requirements.
We already hold country and region guides accountable for their subregions, but extending that to regions further down the hierarchy doesn't make a lot of sense to me when we're just shooting for guide status (usable articles two levels down would be required for star status, as all immediate subregions would need to be at guide status). While I can see the appeal for the U.S., an administrative-division–centric policy to be applied sitewide doesn't seem right to me.
Keep in mind what guide status means: The article would be helpful for the average traveler, such as offering alternatives for where to stay and eat, what to see and do, how to get in and out, etc. and provide enough information for at least a few days there. Our requirements for country/region guide status are already really difficult to meet, and have already evolved to go beyond our most basic metric of guide status.
And also remember why we have it—to motivate people to improve the articles! I've been motivated to tie up the remaining loose ends for guide status because it is a nice milepost within reach. After that, we'll start thinking about shooting for the stars. --Peter Talk 12:52, 17 June 2010 (EDT)
I don't know that anyone's suggesting a sitewide policy change. But considering how American tourism is handled almost exclusively at the state level, it does seem a bit odd to leave those states at "outline" and still say we have an excellent guide to the U.S. Of course, that depends on what we mean by "guide to the U.S."... LtPowers 15:04, 17 June 2010 (EDT)
On the English version of Wikitravel, I think it is even more important for states to be covered than it might be on other language versions (although even that would be cheating those users). Yes, they are technically "subregions", but most American states are larger than many countries, and as an English-speaking country full of potential travelers, gaps are a lot more noticeable than they would be for many other nations. Domestic tourism in the U.S. is huge! The "average traveler" is likely to be someone taking a short trip to a nearby state, which may very well be Oklahoma or Vermont. To assume that there are states that are not worth covering because "nobody goes there" just doesn't seem right, and if "all linked destinations" on the page need to be usable or better, then all the states would need to be brought up to standard.
The incentive to improve articles does not diminish if this is at "usable" status. Even a much smaller nation like Kenya would take a lot of work to get to guide status, and I still think it's important to remember that you've chosen one of the world's largest nations to try and make a "guide" (If you don't count Russia, the entire continent of Europe would fit within the U.S.), and taking up such a task is supposed to be difficult compared to making a region or city a guide. The U.S. is at the top of our world hierarchy next to North America; that's huge! It may be the case that making the U.S. a guide right now is too ambitious.
It isn't part of the country guide requirements, but I think size matters (as in hierarchical size, although in this case, the nation is also literally large). Most people plan trips within regions or states in the U.S., because it's expensive to visit New York, Chicago, Miami, Seattle, Honolulu, and San Francisco in one trip. For nearly every state, I don't think it would be unreasonable to require guide status or all cities in the top 9 at the state level to be at least usable (if not guides) before the nation can even be considered to be called a "guide". The definition of "usable" is much more relative and forgivable if the article fails in some ways than the definition of a "guide", and to say that our coverage of the U.S. would be the only guide someone would need if planning a trip to this country is a statement I don't think we can truly endorse at the moment, despite some of our impressive American guides and stars. ChubbyWimbus 17:35, 17 June 2010 (EDT)

I'm starting to lose track of this discussion, for which I certainly bear responsibility from my last wordy post, and hope to bring it back down to earth a bit:

  1. Our guide to the U.S. has far deeper and broader coverage than any commercial guide.
  2. Our guide status requirements do not require that all states be at usable status.
  3. Our guide to the U.S. is stronger than that for any other country, save Singapore.
  4. The article status pertains only to the article in question (yes, domestic tourists would be very interested in neighboring states, and thus would want a guide-level article to that state, or perhaps to their region, but would not need to read an overview USA article).

By my reckoning, the above articles need to be brought to usable status and the see section needs filling out in order to satisfy the requirements of Wikitravel:Country guide status. If you disagree re: which linked destinations from the immediate region pages should be deemed most important, (e.g., an argument that we must have a usable article to Kenai Fjords National Park in order for Alaska to be considered a usable guide), then feel free to make that case. Otherwise I'm not too sure where we're going. --Peter Talk 17:54, 17 June 2010 (EDT)

Well, what exactly do we want "guide status" to mean at the country level? The structure of the site suggests, to me, that having a guide country means that we have enough information for you to be able to travel to every area: Major sites, as well as many great minor sites/sidetrips. That's kind of how the city articles with subpages work. I picture a guide country giving me a variety of options no matter what state I may visit.
The guidelines however, seem to suggest that the goal of having a "guide" country is not related to our actual coverage of the country but rather how well it is covered on the country page alone. Comparing our guide at the country level to guidebooks at the country level for a country like the United States seems like a very low standard for a guide. Guidebooks at the country-level for the U.S. are too small to actually cover the nation. Our guide is different; we don't have to worry about condensing our entire US coverage into one hand-held book, so we are able to have higher standards. What are we trying to tell users when we have a "guide status" country? ChubbyWimbus 14:11, 6 July 2010 (EDT)
We are trying to tell users that The article would be helpful for the average traveler, such as offering alternatives for where to stay and eat, what to see and do, how to get in and out, etc. and provide enough information for at least a few days there. Our USA guide is far beyond that, and our guide region status requirements have grown to be already a good deal more rigorous than that basic, abstract guideline would suggest.
Star article status, on the other hand, means that our guide is of comparable quality to or better than published guides on the same region. Because of the nature of our site, which allows near-limitless coverage in terms of depth and breadth, the USA guide is already more useful in its online form than any published guidebook. But if it were printed in a reduced and more standard format, it would be competitive already, which is beyond what our guide status means in theory. I disagree rather emphatically that our standard for a guide region/country is low—it's incredibly hard to meet. --Peter Talk 09:21, 8 July 2010 (EDT)
If our country guide only needs to give someone enough options to fill 3 days with activities, food, and places to stay, our Chicago guide alone would make the United States guide status-worthy without any other U.S. articles. The U.S. is way too big for that to be a reasonable indicator of status. Even a much smaller country, like Portugal, would be sold short by such a standard. In comparing with a written guide at the country level, I agree that our coverage is definitately at a competitive level with most other guides however, our pyramid-scheme of working from the bottom-up to heighten the status of articles seems as though it should naturally lead us to having a higher standard than those written guides that often only provide travel options in half of the states. ChubbyWimbus 17:11, 8 July 2010 (EDT)


Okay, what the heck is wrong with listing all of the holidays together? The distinction between federal and non-federal holidays is largely meaningless to the traveler; what is important is what occurs on that day -- what closures and events the traveler must be aware of. That was adequately communicated before, and in a convenient chronological list. Now the traveler has to peruse two lists, with no important distinction between them. LtPowers 21:28, 29 July 2010 (EDT)

Agreed. From a traveler's perspective, banks and government offices being closed rank far below cultural significance. (St. Paddy's Day vs. President's Day? Come on.) The descriptions that were stripped out in that edit should also be restored. Gorilla Jones 00:19, 30 July 2010 (EDT)
I'd also tend to agree - if I'm going overseas it doesn't make any difference to me what holidays are official or not, I simply want to know what to expect on days with major events. -- Ryan • (talk) • 14:18, 31 July 2010 (EDT)

State capitals on the map

To bring back a topic from one lonely comment in 2007, I'm inclined to remove a bunch of state capitals from the regions map. Presumably, travelers are going to be a lot less interested in domestic political geography, and a lot more interested in just finding the big tourist cities easily. A good example of the changes I would like to make would be removing Columbus, SC and adding Charleston, SC. I would be inclined to include cities listed in the next regions down, and remove some of the less-important capitals that don't make those lists. Hopefully this would make the map both easier to read and more focused on our goals. --Peter Talk 18:49, 4 November 2010 (EDT)

I think that sounds good, and obviously once you post a map, people can make suggestions if need be. In cases where the capitals are not in the way and there aren't any destinations that are wanted in that space, I think it would be fine to leave the capital, like Dover. ChubbyWimbus 03:54, 5 November 2010 (EDT)
Several state capitals were already replaced with other cities in the state, including Harrisburg, Albany, Salem, Springfield, Carson City, St. Paul, and Tallahassee. See that discussion here. I think Columbia was just overlooked in that discussion. On Dover, I do note that if we remove it we might be able to get Baltimore in there. I'd also like to see the Niagara Falls dot changed to a blue box since it appears on the Other Destinations list. Sadly, however, I don't think there's any way we can get all of the nine-cities lists on the map, particularly in the Mid-Atlantic and New England. LtPowers 09:38, 5 November 2010 (EDT)

Dealing with children

Re: this reversion, I feel there may be some merit to this particular admonition. The U.S. has grown extremely protective of its children of late, to a degree not seen in many other countries. Visitors from those countries may be used to striking up conversation with other people, including children, and may not realize that doing so could get you some odd looks in the U.S. Not universally, of course, but you never know. LtPowers 09:29, 25 November 2010 (EST)

I don't have strong opinions about it, but if there are many places where people do often approach children they don't know for coversation (and are likely to do so when abroad), then it could possibly be useful. What was written is generally good advice. ChubbyWimbus 14:53, 25 November 2010 (EST)
Does this issue go beyond "parents are likely to be wary of strangers interacting with their children"? Is that not universal? And even if it is not, do we need to mention it in this article where it's likely to receive numerous well-meaning contributions clarifying that this is more true in cities than in small towns, in the north than in the south, etc? I don't think it's an issue that's important enough or non-obvious enough to bother with. -- Ryan • (talk) • 01:25, 26 November 2010 (EST)
My sense is that in many community-centered cultures, the raising of children is considered a communal task (to varying degrees). This is very much not the case in the U.S., to the point where even smiling at a child may cause a parent to freak out. LtPowers 14:04, 26 November 2010 (EST)

Recent disease edits

Several US articles have recently received very detailed information on diseases - see Special:Contributions/ for some examples. While this is good info, I'm concerned that it might be too much for an already-lengthy article like the USA article. For example, West Nile virus, Hanta virus, and the plague are of such minimal concern to anyone visiting the US that there are literally hundreds of other more relevant issues to be concerned about. Does anyone have any suggestion for keeping this info, but doing so in a way that doesn't distract from information that is relevant to the majority of US visitors? -- Ryan • (talk) • 02:05, 24 January 2011 (EST)

They're good-faith edits, but I agree that most are so rare that they don't need mentioned. Lyme disease is probably the most prevalent in the list... Many of them are more specific to certain regions, so perhaps they could just be mentioned in the regional article and left out of this one.

Disease too PC?

The above discussion made me read over the "Disease" section and I notice it says "the HIV rate — especially among gay men, IV drug users, sex workers, and certain ethnic minority groups", so... I was wondering why exactly we suddenly get vague with "certain ethnic minority groups"? When talking HIV, I don't think most people want to have to guess or infer. It is African-Americans that are being referenced here, correct? Can we just say this? Are there others (it's plural)? ChubbyWimbus 04:07, 24 January 2011 (EST)

HIV risk has nothing to do with race, but rather with behavior. I think this we are wandering into [obvious] territory if we cap every article with a reminder to use condoms. Sexually transmitted diseases are also addressed under the gay/lesbian section of this article. I may go in and consolidate things a bit...SONORAMA 05:37, 24 January 2011 (EST)



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