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See also: Wikitravel:Manual of style for the US.
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:
Recent disease edits
Several US articles have recently received very detailed information on diseases - see Special:Contributions/18.104.22.168 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.
- It was fine before; list some of the most significant hazards -- probably Rabies being the most important -- and leave the details for the region and state articles. LtPowers 18:47, 24 January 2011 (EST)
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)
- The condom thing definitely doesn't belong. HIV risks DO heighten depending on who you are having sexual relations with, because we can also say that it is behavior rather than sexuality that creates the risk for any group. That is technically true, but it doesn't change the statistics that the prevalence of HIV is higher in certain groups, making them more risky. If we can pinpoint "gay men" then we should also be able to identify these "ethnic minority groups". It does no good to try and sugar coat it by saying, "especially people with certain sexual preferences, people who use certain drugs/narcotics, people of certain occupations, and certain ethnic minority groups." ChubbyWimbus 16:35, 24 January 2011 (EST)
- This is getting obscure, and most certainly out of my area of expertise, however, prevalence of AIDS within "ethnic minorities", is more likely as a result of socio-economic factors, reflecting the social makeup of the U.S. There is no real link at all to race, the link is to wealth and privilege, which is just reflected in HIV stats the same as it reflected in racial statistics.
- Are we really recommending to a traveller to play a statistical game here? The AIDS risk exists worldwide, and I don't think we need a statistical treatment of it here. --inas 17:26, 24 January 2011 (EST)
- Of course there is no genetic link between HIV and race, but someone felt that it was important to list the groups in which HIV is most prevalent, so if we want this information then I don't like it being vague. There is also no link between HIV and any of these other groups genetically, so there are always social/economic factors. The point of naming WHO the "ethnic minorities" are is not to say "these people are dirty, disgusting, immoral, subhumans". If that were the case, then the entire list is highly offensive and judgmental. It's just not useful to say "certain groups" so let's be fair and name names if we like this information. If we don't, then let's get rid of all of them and leave it at the fact that HIV in America is more common than most other developed nations. Which do we prefer? ChubbyWimbus 18:48, 24 January 2011 (EST)
- I'm certainly in favour of the latter. As I said before, if we really do want visitors to try their luck with stats, income and wealth is a better measure than skin colour or race. Best advice is to check credit history --inas 20:31, 24 January 2011 (EST)
- I say axe the list. Practice safe sex regardless of which stranger in a foreign land you are screwing... --Peter Talk 13:37, 26 January 2011 (EST)
- I think there's consensus then that the list wasn't useful, so it's gone. ChubbyWimbus 16:59, 26 January 2011 (EST)
Currently the article states: "All of the digits must usually be dialed, even if "XXX" and "YYY" matches your phone's number. (In the smaller cities, XXX need not be dialed for local calls.)"
This is not the norm. By default, area codes are not needed, and cities/metro areas with 10-digit dialing are the exception. That said, since much of the population lives in these metro areas, and many visitors will be in these areas, I can see how it might appear differently.
I'm going to edit this to present it both accurately and helpfully. --BigPeteB 17:24, 28 March 2011 (EDT)
Men shaking hands with women
For whatever it's worth, I'm 46 and grew up in a liberal family in New York, NY and live in Manhattan today, and what I've always been taught is that it's best to wait for a woman to extend her hand before shaking it. I don't always practice that, and it isn't a terrible faux pas for a man to offer his hand first, but sometimes, women react as if that's just an excuse for the man to touch them. So I submit that it's a best practice for the man to do the traditional thing and wait for the woman to extend her hand (or not), and I dissent about reverting that part of my recent edit. Ikan Kekek 20:41, 9 April 2011 (EDT)
- While that may be a social norm in some instances, I'm not sure that it's a common enough thing (or unique enough) to merit inclusion in this article. The "Respect" section of the US article seems to become a dumping ground for etiquette advice, and the level of detail that people add often far exceeds what a traveler would need to know. If left unchecked this section tends to balloon into rambling paragraphs (for example: ), which hides the useful info under a mountain of less-important details. -- Ryan • (talk) • 21:25, 9 April 2011 (EDT)
- I definitely get your point. Thanks. Ikan Kekek 21:47, 9 April 2011 (EDT)
- I also think that it's not severe enough to warrant inclusion, because it's not rude or abhorrent for men to shake hands with women and I don't think most women would actually be disgusted by it. If one does happen to leave you hanging though, you do have an open-hand to slap her with. :P ChubbyWimbus 01:22, 10 April 2011 (EDT)
- Definitely not abhorrent or disgusting. :-) Ikan Kekek 01:52, 10 April 2011 (EDT)
- I suppose if a traveler is invited to a society party on the Upper East Side, he might need to know about certain social customs -- but enumerating them all is beyond the scope of this article. The average traveler will do just fine knowing simply that it is customary to shake hands when meeting someone (male or female). 50 years ago, that may not have been the case, but today I think it is. LtPowers 09:35, 10 April 2011 (EDT)
- I'm under 50 years old, grew up on the West Side, and don't travel in the kinds of circles you're talking about, and I disagree somewhat with your opinion, but I do agree now that it's not important to fight about the edit - partly because foreigners will often be given some leeway, anyway. Ikan Kekek 14:04, 10 April 2011 (EDT)
I feel this edit was a bad idea. First and foremost, it means we now have no mention of several of the most important museums in the country. Second of all, the reason I wrote that paragraph (and the D.C. paragraph) is because otherwise, NYC and DC museums would come to dominate the list that appears below them. I could be wrong, but I don't think any of the cities Ryan mentioned in his edit summary come close to NYC's selection when it comes to renown and importance. LtPowers 17:09, 5 May 2011 (EDT)
- My concern was that the paragraph seemed like an invitation to add "my city, too" lists, something we typically try to avoid at the country/region level. DC, as the capital, might warrant special mention, but calling out New York in its own paragraph and including museums like MOMA would seem to invite the addition of the Getty in LA, the Field Museum in Chicago, etc, leading to too much detail for what the section is trying to convey about the US, namely that there are a lot of great museums. -- Ryan • (talk) • 17:19, 5 May 2011 (EDT)
- Those individual museums can be added to the list; the problem is that the Guggenheim, Ellis Island, and the Natural History museum all deserve to be on that list as well (plus at least one of the MMOA, MOMA, and Intrepid). Any other city that had four or five on the list could be broken out as well, but I doubt any other city would qualify. LtPowers 20:22, 5 May 2011 (EDT)
- Even as over-hyped and over-promoted as New York City may be, I do think that it has enough world-famous museums that the paragraph was not inappropriate. If there was something wrong with the wording, that can be worked out, but the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other such museums are actually more well-known to many people abroad (and domestically) than even D.C.'s Smithsonians. I sort of consider Ellis Island to be more of a historical site/landmark than a museum, but that's not so important. I think the list will always potentially attract the "add my city" edits, regardless of whether NYC has its own paragraph or not, but I don't think people will make the argument that New York City does NOT deserve any mention. ChubbyWimbus 02:51, 6 May 2011 (EDT)
- Fair enough - please restore the original paragraph. That said, it might be worth revisiting this section in the future to try to make it less of a list of destinations and more of a general overview of museums in America, with a callout for things like hall of fames, and perhaps pointers to why certain museums are where they are (example: philanthropy from individuals like Carnegie, Guggenheim, Getty, etc). -- Ryan • (talk) • 11:04, 6 May 2011 (EDT)
- Of course I'm open to changes; the text I wrote was just an attempt at a first pass (the entire "See" section was completely empty except for itineraries before I got my hands on it last June). I'd be interested to see an example of what you mean! LtPowers 16:30, 6 May 2011 (EDT)
Anyone wishing to go through the archived talk pages for this article will find numerous discussions about trimming the "Respect" section to get rid of Obvious information. The most recent revert to this section was done for the same reasons - the "Respect" section of this article tends to attract well-meaning edits that have the effect of diluting useful information. While it may be valuable to point out the sensitivity of Americans to race issues, this section has been used to present advice on not making fun of America, not joking about September 11, not peeing in public, etc. The Obvious guideline was started as a specific response to these sorts of edits, and the most recent revert was done due to its well-meaning but overly general advice. -- Ryan • (talk) • 18:10, 18 May 2011 (EDT)
In the phrase "… [US] is regarded as the world's wealthiest and most powerful country…" I removed "regarded as", since the statement as edited is true and factual. As a source I site the CIA world fact book. While it is perhaps more polite to be falsely modest, a fact is a fact. —The preceding comment was added by William M Goetsch (talk • contribs)
- Is it the world's wealthiest nation with its billions of dollars in debt? And as far as "most powerful" goes, the nuclear nations all have enough bombs to destroy the planet, so... how much more powerful can any single country get than that? —The preceding comment was added by 22.214.171.124 (talk • contribs)
- Hey, guys, if we're going to quibble over this ridiculously trivial matter, could you at least sign your posts? LtPowers 16:18, 8 June 2011 (EDT)
- Yeah, I sort of thought that the bloat was elsewhere... I would have signed if the stupid Captcha wasnt requiring a sig 126.96.36.199 16:22, 8 June 2011 (EDT)
I agree that it's a trivial matter. But it grates on me because it's so politically correct. And I wonder which country the anonymous editor would nominate as the most wealthy and powerful. None I suppose. Then the best, and most NPOV solution is simply to remove the entire sentence, which doesn't seem to have anything much to say to a traveler anyway.
I haven't worked on Wikitravel and this page since 2004, and now I remember why I stopped.
Bill 14:56, 9 June 2011 (EDT)
- Try not to let one obstinate IP user get you down; building travel guides by consensus is a long road, to be sure, but it's rewarding. We need your contributions! LtPowers 16:43, 9 June 2011 (EDT)
- Probably calling it the absolute most powerful and wealthiest nation implies that it is the BEST nation, which lends itself to offending non-Americans. It's probably also assumed that an American wrote it to begin with which doesn't help. I guess the article's fine without it, since arguments about power and wealth are mostly political, as you said, rather than travel-related. I'd like to echo LtPowers though that I hope this doesn't make you leave again. I think we've all found ourselves in the midst of such squabbles before... ChubbyWimbus 20:52, 9 June 2011 (EDT)
I don't intend to get too into this, but I think it would be best to get rid of anything other than simple travel advice here (in other words, I'm plugging my previous edit ). Few things in American life are more likely to provoke edit warring than opinions of the police. --Peter Talk 12:02, 14 June 2011 (EDT)
- Although the other edit is probably done in good faith, I think I also prefer your shortened version. While American police officers are not perfect, compared to most other countries they are generally quite good, polite and honest. ChubbyWimbus 12:22, 14 June 2011 (EDT)
- Right, so we should say that. The fact that people will edit war over it (and this person's edits were no improvement, frankly, so I don't see why his opinion on that line ought to matter) is no reason not to include useful information. LtPowers 18:46, 14 June 2011 (EDT)
- It seems more a platitude than useful information to me, and an invitation to edit warring from people who have had bad experiences with police. There are parts of the country where "run-ins with the law" are not always such a positive experience for everyone, and on the other hand, plenty of other countries have professional police forces. What would be more useful information to convey is that police, when approached for help, will be helpful—that is a meaningful distinction from police forces in some other countries, which are best avoided even in case of a problem. --Peter Talk 20:18, 14 June 2011 (EDT)
I'm not clear on why certain phrases are so important to include in the History section. This recent edit re-added a few that I'd removed, and I'd like to explain why I removed them in the first place.
One change exchanged "sophisticated cliff-side towns" to "elaborate cliff-side towns". To me, this neuters the notability of the pueblos by merely praising their complexity. To me, it's their sophistication that makes them more remarkable; anyone can be elaborate, after all.
Another change added "imported" to describe how African slaves were used. That seems redundant. They obviously didn't just find African slaves waiting to be exploited here in America; making sure to note that they were imported seems to insult the reader's intelligence.
Another change is to note that the U.S. defeated Germany in World War I. Aside from being a gross simplification (the U.S. hardly did it singlehandedly, nor was Germany our only opponent), it also strikes me as not particularly relevant. The important fact to take from U.S. involvement in WWI is that it marked our emergence as a world superpower, not that we beat up those Germans real good.
The fourth change is new, not one I previously removed, but I find it most puzzling: WWII had been raging in Asia since before WWI?
-- LtPowers 14:10, 4 July 2011 (EDT)
- I changed that because 'sophistocated' is already used just above to describe the Native American societies. It was redundant using the word twice, not to mention sounding preachy, like "We get it, they're NOT savages like the media portrays them!" (it was even more preachy before I deleted a couple other Native American pity sentences) It's not that I don't think they were sophistocated, but ONE of the 'sophistocated' words needed to go to avoid the redundancy, and I just chose that one. I tried to choose a word that conveyed a similar feeling to describe the dwellings but feel free to think of another or change the other 'sophisticated', although I think the other one is better placed.
- With the slave part, "imported" seemed to make sense to me just because slavery was just kind of tossed into this "history" section as something that made Virginia great, which seemed odd to me, so if that's how it's going to be treated in the article, it seemed at least appropriate to connect the dots and ground the section a little. I suppose whoever wrote the original also thought, "It's obvious" like you, but we shouldn't be writing history sections with the assumption that "everybody knows it already". It's not that I don't think people know or can figure it out, it just seemed appropriate to not have strange holes in the article, because to me the section did treat it as though the slaves were just waiting here for the white men to arrive and were forced to work when they were discovered.
- With the Germany remark, we can't say that simply ENTERING the war marked it's emergence as a superpower. There needs to be some sort of action involved to show HOW exactly WWI marked the US as a superpower. Countries like Finland, Belgium, Egypt, etc "entered" the war, but they didn't become world powers. Entering war doesn't make a nation powerful, so there needs to be something else said about what made it such a defining moment for the US. I realize that "defeating Germany" may be oversimplified, but at least saying that they were able to hold their own against one of the world's strongest nations shows that America had power and the success points this out, not "entering the war" which just shows that some guys were sent to Europe.
- Pearl Harbor was only the beginning of Asian involvement for the United States. To say that war began in Asia with Pearl Harbor is rather insulting to the other Asian nations that'd been in conflict with Japan since prior to WWI, because Japan had been actively conquering territory and expanding, as stated, since prior to World War 1 with the Sino-Japanese War, Russo-Japanese War, Korea, etc. Even WWI itself was just a convenience for Japan to secure German territory in China to continue what it was already doing. WWI is a European historic mark, but for Asia/Japan, what our history books seem to suggest were WWII activities were certainly well underway before WWII but had begun prior to WWI. It seemed the most concise way to say it and it is truthful, so that's why I wrote that. At any rate, since we state that Japan (in Asia) was what got the US involved in the war, we kinda needed mention of how long war had been going on previously in that region. Europe is given 2 years but it's rather choppy to say that after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor the US sent its troops off to Europe.
- In general, I find this history section to be rather choppy and less informative than the history sections of other nations. It seems that "being concise" has been mudded with the idea that American history is all very obvious and known by everyone to make a rather shallow, disconnected account of American history. The flow of the "History" section is lacking in my opinion. ChubbyWimbus 16:46, 4 July 2011 (EDT)
This recent edit to the history section added extensive detail on US monetary policy that seems too detailed to me. The edit was well-intentioned, but monetary policy is a subject for its own (Wikipedia) article, and not really helpful in a brief overview within a travel guide. -- Ryan • (talk) • 02:06, 16 July 2011 (EDT)
- Well intentioned I am sure, and certainly well written. But I agree with Ryan that this does not belong in a travel guide. --Burmesedays 02:54, 16 July 2011 (EDT)
- I agree, but I was reluctant to just revert wholesale. I left a message about it on the user's talk page, since he/she is a new user. LtPowers 10:39, 16 July 2011 (EDT)
- I am going to re-add the deleted section for three distinct reasons:
- It is not purely economical, but rather intertwines politics and economics to show how the administrative policies of the USA in the past 40 or so years have left large parts of it in real-life social ruin (in other words, how the treatment of various social classes and economic policies towards those classes have left the country in quite a bit of disarray);
- The discussion here is insufficient to justify a wholesale reverting;
- I am willing to be flexible and change the language to be more accommodating in various ways but I'm not willing to see the entire thing unilaterally erased and nothing similar put in its place. Tell me what to do to make the thing better and I'll make it better, but please don't be so rude as to just erase the whole thing and leave it at that.
- Thanks. Kikodawgzzz 02:29, 10 August 2011 (EDT)
- Regarding your second point, per Wikitravel:Consensus, when there is dissent (in this case three editors raising concerns) the article should stay as-is. Regarding your first point, the US article is one of the longest articles on Wikitravel, and it tends to stray from information for travelers into general information about the US, so we are constantly pruning it down to try to keep things relevant to travel. In this particular case, the information you've added seems interesting from a social standpoint, but in my opinion is more suitable for an encyclopedia article than a travel guide. As to a wholesale revert, if you can summarize your point into a sentence or two it might make sense to keep in the article, but the level of detail you've gone into doesn't seem to lend itself well to a short summary. -- Ryan • (talk) • 10:51, 10 August 2011 (EDT)
- Again, please discuss the proposed changes before re-adding. I'm still not understanding why it is important to go into detail on US monetary policy in the 70's for a travel guide to the US. The information may be good, but it's too much detail - PLEASE either summarize it to a few sentences, or else consider contributing the info to an article on Wikipedia. -- Ryan • (talk) • 13:20, 4 September 2011 (EDT)
These edits are well-intentioned, but I think they add too much detail. We are not an encyclopedia. How much of this is really relevant to travelers? LtPowers 20:21, 22 January 2012 (EST)
- The whole "History" section could use some pruning, and in particular the "government and politics" section in particular seems far too detailed for a travel guide. -- Ryan • (talk) • 20:37, 22 January 2012 (EST)
- I don't mind the extra sentence about slavery, since slavery is a big part of American history and sites with links to slaves, the underground railroad, and African-American history are major tourist draws in many areas. I also like the added mention of the Trail of Tears however, I prefer to simply say they were pushed West and cutting the Oklahoma bit. ChubbyWimbus 04:35, 25 January 2012 (EST)
Region discussion - West Virginia and Virginia
While discussing the identity of the Mid-Atlantic, it occurred to me that the common inclusion of West Virginia and Virginia in the popular definition could be useful here on Wikitravel as well. W.Va. has much in common with southwestern Pennsylvania, and northern Virginia is strongly associated with Washington, D.C. There are some drawbacks, though: Virginia was part of the Confederacy, with Richmond its capital, and the southern parts of the state are clearly Southern. But I wouldn't want to move W.Va. without moving Virginia, because of the semantics of the term "Mid-Atlantic" if nothing else.
The main advantage would be balancing out the regions a bit. Mid-Atlantic has only five states, while South (United States of America) has eleven. Seven and nine would be more balanced. It would leave Kentucky as a northern outlier for the South region, but whatcha gonna do?
Thoughts? LtPowers 13:40, 2 November 2011 (EDT)
- I'm ambivalent. Culturally, I think they're closer to Southern (particularly when compared with the very cosmopolitan NYC and DC) than anything else, but then they don't really stack up to the Deep South like GA, AL, and MS, either, especially northern VA.
- I guess it depends on what the "point" of dividing states into regions is? Is it most useful to visitors for us to group things geographically, or culturally, or what?
- (Incidentally, have you seen the Sweet Tea Line?  Someone checked all the McDonald's in VA to see if they had sweet tea available, and it draws a pretty clear boundary between northern and southern VA. Perhaps this is why it's so hard to classify.)
- --BigPeteB 14:05, 2 November 2011 (EDT)
- Virginia can't be Mid-Atlantic in my mind. It's definitely part of the South. I think I'd also leave West Virginia where it is. It does look strange to put it in a different region than Virginia and it still seems southern to me. ChubbyWimbus 11:26, 4 November 2011 (EDT)
- It's definitely part of the South, but so is Texas; we have some freedom to move states around for logical reasons. But moreso than that, Virginia is often included in the Mid-Atlantic region, as noted on Talk:Mid-Atlantic. Is there any specific reasoning behind your recommendation, or some way in which my reasoning was flawed? LtPowers 13:02, 4 November 2011 (EDT)
- Note, for example, this map from 1883. LtPowers 13:32, 5 November 2011 (EDT)
- I'm positive that this issue has come up numerous times, but Talk:United States of America/Archive 2006#West Virginia was the only discussion I found in the talk page archives. My personal opinion is that Virginia belongs in the South - outside of the DC suburbs the state is quintessentially southern, and it makes sense to keep the Confederate states together to avoid some of the cultural battles that have been waged over Wikitravel's regional structure in the past. West Virginia and Kentucky are trickier, but I'm positive that there have been discussions in the past about why they are where they are, and those should be dug up prior to making any change to verify whether the old arguments are still valid or not. -- Ryan • (talk) • 13:48, 5 November 2011 (EDT)
- Having grown up in Kentucky, I definitely consider both KY and WV part of the South. Something about the Appalachian region really just blends everything from north GA all the way through WV together seamlessly. --BigPeteB 09:47, 6 November 2011 (EST)
- My inclination is to include Virginia in both regions ;) --Peter Talk 11:34, 14 November 2011 (EST)
Nine cities - just some info
discoveramerica.com is being revamped; currently on their splash page, they have links to 12 city-based itineraries: Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Washington, Seattle, Atlanta, San Francisco, Dallas, New York, and New Orleans. Our list of nine cities matches closely, except we have Miami and forgo Philly, Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Dallas. I'm not suggesting any change here, just providing some information. LtPowers 16:31, 10 November 2011 (EST)
I think racism and advice for travelers of color is important in this article (as well as all others). Thoughts? —The preceding comment was added by 188.8.131.52 (talk • contribs)
- The vast majority of "travelers of color" will encounter no problems on the vast majority of their itineraries. Race need only be mentioned if it's something the traveler is likely to need to know. LtPowers 23:16, 18 November 2011 (EST)
- Racism and how it might affect travel is something that is very difficult to write about. Travel experiences are by their nature anecdotal, and because of the fear involved with racist incidents (or other crimes targeting outsiders), there will be one tendency to overwrite about the subject. On the other hand, plenty of people simply don't want to deal with this issue and will want to dismiss notions that there is a problem with racism where they live. For these two reasons, this is a troll's topic delight—it's really easy to get people bogged down in arguments over whatever we write about racism.
- That's not to say that ignoring the concerns of minority travelers (or even simply foreign travelers) that they might be singled out for harassment is a good thing, but I don't have great advice for how to go about this. --Peter Talk 17:12, 19 November 2011 (EST)