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Talk:United States of America

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Contents

See also:

"Do" Section

That section should really be cleaned up. It advises that one of the best things to do is shoot guns. That is not exactly how the it should be interpreted. More importantly, the Constitution only grants the right to bear arms to citizens.

Sample Cities

US Cities should be ranked by destination travel statistics (see last edit). Any cities added beyond the top 10 visitors stats or top 15, etc., appears to be steering - like who's going to KC?

It seems odd that the nine sample cities does not include Las Vegas. Why not make it an even ten? Or remove New Orleans or Seattle. http://wikitravel.org/en/Las_Vegas

Seattle and New Orleans are listed because there is a consensus that they belong there. You are free to try to build a consensus for replacing one of them with Las Vegas, but I'm just guessing it's going to be an uphill battle (I for one don't care much for Las Vegas). At any rate, you'll fare better if you sign your posts to the talk pages. It's really easy, just type -- ~~~~. Thanks. -- Mark 08:46, 12 May 2006 (EDT)
If we make it ten, why not eleven? Or a dozen? Or a baker's dozen! The line has to be drawn somewhere, and nine is a pretty good number; beyond that you're not giving a sample... you're making a list. I've got nothing against Vegas, but if someone from another country is trying to figure out where to spend their visit to the US (which is what I gather the purpose of this list is), I can think of at least nine cities I'd suggest ahead of it. - Todd VerBeek 09:13, 12 May 2006 (EDT)
I would argue that the notion of a "sample" as being the goal for this section is off base. The general United States of America article should include only cities that are top international travel destinations. The list as it stands is good, but the lack of Las Vegas did stick out in my mind as I read the article - Las Vegas is a principal travel destination, indeed often the only destination, for a large number of visitors to the United States. In any rate, if we're going for an arbitrary number (and I can certainly see the practical value of this), 10 seems more natural than 9. And Todd, I'd suggest just about every other city in the US ahead of Las Vegas, but it nonetheless beats them on popularity. --Peterfitzgerald Talk 18:04, 5 March 2007 (EST)
Hi Peter, you can find the answer to your question regarding why lists of sample destinations consist of nine places, rather than say ten or some other number, on this page: Wikitravel:Geographical hierarchy#Dividing geographical units. Hope it answers your question satisfactorily. WindHorse 21:52, 5 March 2007 (EST)
I agree with the Las Vegas idea. I compared the list of our 9 "notable" cities to the list of cities by population (not that population alone makes a city notable), and our list of 9 seems a bit strange. Aside from my feeling that Las Vegas should be on a list of 9 notable U.S. cities, why is Boston on the list and not Philadelphia? Surely Philadelphia has equal colonial and historical credibility, but it also has triple the population of Boston and Philadelphia was the former capital of the U.S. It's also strange that, although Houston, San Antonio and Dallas are all three in the top ten most populous cities, not one Texas town gets on the "notable" list. Lastly, I feel compelled to urge replacing Seattle with Portland, Oregon. Blackberrylaw 05:14, 29 March 2007 (EDT)

I found an objective measure of top U.S. Cities for tourism. They are as follows according to a random website from 2001: CITY (MARKET SHARE VISITATION (000)) New York City 22.0% 4,803 Los Angeles 12.9% 2,816 Miami 11.7% 2,554 Orlando 11.3% 2,467 San Francisco 9.0% 1,965 Oahu/Honolulu 8.0% 1,747 Las Vegas 6.9% 1,506 Washington D.C. 5.5% 1,201 Chicago 4.9% 1,070

Boston 4.9% 1,070 Atlanta 3.2% 699 San Diego 2.7% 589 Tampa/St. Petersburg 2.3% 502 San Jose 1.9% 415 Philadelphia 1.9% 415 Houston 1.9% 415 Ft. Lauderdale 1.9% 415

Source: http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=318827

Thanks for the input. The figures you've provided are a useful reference. However, the list of sample cities is not decided on tourist figures alone, but considers various factors. A city that has a large corporate presence such as, for example, Seattle will receive a large number of visitors, but they are not tourists. Cities with strong baseball teams may also attract a large number of visitors, but again these are not tourists. However, in both cases the visitors will still require information about the city they are visiting. Geographical considerations are also taken into account. For example, on a tourist survey both Miami and St Petersburg might rank high, but only one would be considered for listing as they are both within the same region. Anyway, thanks again for seeking out the above list. As I said, the information will be a useful reference for choosing the cities to be included in the sample list, though for reasons I stated it cannot be a decisive factor. Take it easy. WindHorse 23:26, 12 August 2007 (EDT)

Almost all except -> all except

I changed "Almost all Americans, except the native population, are descended from immigrants" to "All Americans [...]". I can't think of anyone who's not American Indian who's not descended from immigrants. --Evan 04:44, 28 Mar 2004 (EST)


How about African Americans? They did not descend from immigrants. I wouldn't call forced slavery the same thing as immigration.

Websters says To enter and settle in a country or region to which one is not native.
I don't see any reference as to force or lack thereof. It would be presumed, that slaves did settle here, yes? 4.164.234.10 11:40, 18 Jul 2005 (EDT) (wp:user:Guy M)

what about Puerto Rico ?

The "United States" section of the CIA Factbook http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/us.html mentions these "Dependent areas":

American Samoa, Baker Island, Guam, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Navassa Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palmyra Atoll, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Wake Island

They don't seem to be included in any "Region" at the moment.

Should we give them a separate "Region" ? "U.S. Islands", maybe ?

If we do that, should we demote Hawaii to be just part of that region, rather than an entire region to itself ?

-- DavidCary 17:24, 2 Apr 2004 (EST)

What about calling them Dependent Territories (of the United States) rather than U.S. Islands. Hawaii and Alaska were once both territories, before they became states. -- Huttite 20:37, 25 Dec 2004 (EST)

OK to categorize Florida as just another state in the South ?

I can understand making Texas a region all its own. But I would have lumped Florida in with the "South". But then, I still haven't visited Florida. I'd be happy if someone who has visited Florida would say "yes, it's definitely in its own category". -- DavidCary 17:24, 2 Apr 2004 (EST)

Yes, it's definitely in its own category. --Evan 23:23, 2 Apr 2004 (EST)
Yes, it's definitely in its own category. Very specifically, every winter, Florida becomes a province of Canada. (I've heard that 1/10 of Canada's population visits Florida every winter.) The northern part of the state (Jacksonville, the Panhandle) are part of The South, but the southern part of the state shares more, culturally, with the Northeast and with the Caribbean. Chip 00:29, 8 Jul 2004 (EDT)
Yes, it's definitely in its own category. I grew up in Florida, spending over 20 years there. It is increasingly competing with AZ for being the "State of the Living Dead", thanks to the relocation of aged retirees. And, now that the State goverenment has destroyed the citrus industry, it's sole primary industry is tourism entertainment, unlike GA which still produces marketable crops.

[[User: David L. Mohn}}

Former residents of Florida like to call it "God's Waiting Room". Jordanmills 21:02, 23 April 2006 (EDT)
just because florida is different from the rest of the south due to higher rates of tourism and retirement doesnt necesarily make it deserve its own heading in "regions". when I go through regions I dont think cultural regions I just think divisions of territory. with that said I think texas (despite its size and importance) should be lumped into a region as well and maybe put hawaii and alaska into "non continental us states" or something to that effect.

traffic accidents 4 times as tragic as shootings

"America has the highest rate of shootings in the industrialized world, by several orders of magnitude."

What is the source of this statement?

I don't know about other countries, but here's stats for the U.S.:

2001: in the United States:

  • 47,288 Deaths Due to Unintentional (Accidental) Injuries: Transport Accidents
  • 11,348 Deaths Due to Assault: Assault by firearm

-- http://nsc.org/lrs/statinfo/odds.htm

That says, contrary to what I see in the movies, that over 4 times as many people die in traffic accidents than from firearms. Perhaps, in our article, we should put 4 times the emphasis on traffic accidents as on shootings.

So what are the stats for other countries ? Are traffic accidents also much worse in the U.S. than in other countries ?

-- DavidCary 18:38, 2 Apr 2004 (EST)

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00046149.htm (study compares violence against among children, but a general point can be taken too)
I think the important point to emphazise is that the US is a more violent country than most industrialized nations. There are lots of historic and cultural reasons for this, none of which are particularly interesting. The important things is that travelers need to know that just because the majority of Americans look like Europeans doesn't mean they will act like Europeans. So a traveler from China, for example, who has experience with traveling to Europe should not automatically assume the US is just another European country.
-- Colin 19:17, 2 Apr 2004 (EST)


Also, there is nothing special about U.S. death rates on roads http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/injury/chartbook/en/chap2_slide2.jpg
In fact, I would arge that given that the U.S. has more freeway driving going on, driving in the U.S. might actually be safer than many industrialized nations. (I'm such an optimist). Using the same logic (tell travelers what they don't already know), I don't see why we should warn anyone about the auto accident death rate, although it might be nice to reassure travelers that their own driving is still the most likely way they will die in the U.S. -- Colin 19:31, 2 Apr 2004 (EST)
I think it's worth an aside saying that the thing you really need to worry about is getting run over crossing the street. Actually the US is just about as safe as any other country for drivers, but it (along with Great Britain) is unusually dangerous for pedestrians. There have even been studies by the insurance industry showing that the police almost always report auto-pedestrian accidents as the pedestrian's fault, so not only are you likely to be run over if you are not extra careful, but you'll also wind up with a giant hospital bill if you survive. -- Mark 12:26, 6 Jan 2006 (EST)

Critique of the article

Today I stumbled across this article on the United States. I confess I didn't like it very much. But at first I was not sure why. So I went back and read the whole thing over again.

To provide some context for my comments, let me say I am seventy years old having spent the first 30 in a far west suburb of Chicago and the next 40 in Pittsburgh.

In my re-reading the first thing that caught my attention was the heading, "Culture". I thought, This couldn't have been written by someone who knew the country well. Then I thought, Well maybe that's good in a travel article, an outsider's perspective. But the more I read the more I felt that it was constructed of all the negative stereotypes that one reads in the European press. In some sense stereotypes are true, yet at the same time the article is biased in that there were next to no positive stereotypes to provide balance. Then I thought, Well my skin is just too thin. So for an unbiased comparison I thought I would read the "Culture" sections for some other countries. I checked Germany, Norway and numerous others: no "Culture". Well these countries certainly are regarded by many as having a culture, but maybe they're just too small for Wikitravelers to spend time on that aspect of them. So I checked China and Brazil, not pigeons for sure. Still, no "Culture" sections.

That, I think, goes a long way to explain what is distasteful about the US article: While the author(s) of other articles seem content with providing useful information for travelers, these author(s) felt an urge to go farther. For example:

Given America's place on the world stage, it may seem strange to non-Americans how they picture themselves: warm, thoughtful, friendly, uncomplicated, and righteous. Most Americans consider their place in the world as that of common sense and homely living -- "Mom and apple pie", as the saying here goes. The flipside of this attitude is a general anti-intellectualism, with "real people" being more respected than "snobs" and "bookworms". The simple sentimentalist and violent streaks in American media are a strong reflection of this attitude.

What is being said here? The sentence structure is convoluted but it sounds as though we picture ourselves as "warm, thoughtful, friendly, uncomplicated, and righteous". Well, some of us do and some of us don't; some of us are and some of us aren't. And, of course, all of this is true about people anywhere in the world. So what is really being said to the traveler here? Watch out for the cowboys? The author(s) don't come right out and tell us. In the same vein, they continue with the stereotype of anti-intellectualism. It is difficult to quantify intellectualism, but in any sense that one might actually measure -- scholarly journals, advanced degrees, political criticism, books published, things invented, I don't think we stack up too badly. But maybe they are only saying that we don't like intellectuals, not that we don't have them in full measure. In either case what is the message they are providing to the traveler?

More:

... people from other countries, especially in Asia and Latin America, are often viewed with suspicion. Americans have an ideal of what the "real" American culture is like, and although they may and often do experiment with immigrant cuisine and music, non-natives are considered by some as a threat to what's "really" American. Some foreign travelers may feel uncomfortable under the scrutiny of America's xenophobic side.

While it is certainly true that some Americans view people from other cultures with suspicion, in my experience it is not true that people from other countries are "often" viewed with suspicion. I suppose it depends on what the meaning of "often" is. And its meaning here should be, "compared to what other country". Who here shall cast the first stone? Are Americans more zenophobic than other people? Typically, the author(s) has again chosen a stereotype that is difficult to quantify. "non-natives are considered by some as a threat ...". The word "some" is convenient here because in any substantial population it is always true; so we can't fault the author(s) for making an untrue statement. But let us compare countries a little bit, for that is the real interest of the traveler after all. Should one be especially nervous as a foreigner in America? One could as well ask whether all Germans welcome the Turks with open arms? All French, the Algerians? All Italians, the Albanians, and this is to name only a few. Well I have taken the trouble to check the Wikitravel pages for these countries to see if travelers to these countries are properly cautioned. They aren't.

I will not continue further, though it would be easy to find much more in the same vein. My basic point here is not that Americans are perfect, though if we had any doubt about it we are nowadays informed regularly that we are not. My point is that much of this article does not belong in a travel-focused article, as witnessed by the fact that information of this type is not contained in other countries' articles, and conversely, if it does belong, then "culture" should be in the "country template" (it is not -- and probably a good thing too or we should really see the fur fly).

What we have in this article is editorializing in the guize of travel writing. I do not say this is intentional. I prefer to think merely that the author(s) is somewhat naive, or has expressed him- or herself poorly.

Sincerely, William M Goetsch 22:00, 2 May 2004 (EDT)

The Culture section should stay, but I agree that some of the negative POV should be removed. It's not true that the USA is the only country on Wikitravel with a culture section. Austria has one. If other large countries don't, it's because their entries are incomplete.
And yes, you can generalise about a country's culture, as long as you're making clear that you're generalising. You're essentially stating the mean of a Gaussian distribution, which will only overlap to a certain extent with a Gaussian distribution of another country. For example: If you bump into an American on the street, there's a 90% chance that they're of an uncomplicated nature. In Germany that chance may only be 10%. Thus it's not wrong to say that "Americans are, in the whole, uncomplicated, whereas Germans aren't" -- 137.222.40.132 11:02, 16 Sep 2005 (EDT)
I think your critique is right-on, at least in that it's not really possible to write about the U.S. having a culture. Checking the page history and noting the author of the "Culture" bits I think I can form a theory: the author is actually writing about his childhood home in the Texas Panhandle, as opposed to the U.S. as a whole.
I actually think it would be easy for any of us to fall into this trap. I have a totally different view of the U.S. having grown up mainly in a college town and then having lived in the inner city of Chicago, and later San Francisco. As such I've requesed myself from writing about the U.S.A. as a whole. I just really don't know what the Culture of the U.S. is.
I do suspect that anybody attempting to write about "American culture" is going to have the same exact problem. See I can't even decide what to call it. ;) -- Mark 04:03, 3 May 2004 (EDT)
Mr. Goetsch: feel free to make changes to the article to give more accurate information on the USA. Most of the parts that you found unpleasant were written by me. I am an American born and bred, and I tried to give as much info as I can about differences between the US and other English-speaking countries. You can consider it an insider's outsider's view.
The USA is more complete than other country articles, but that's not because we don't want this information -- that's what the Understand section is for. I'd love to see Germany or Norway have the depth of analysis as this page has.
It's hard to write about the culture of a place as big and diverse as the US without a lot of generalization. I especially tried to cover the aspects of US culture that seem to puzzle international visitors; these tend to be some of our country's less savory qualities. --Evan 01:34, 4 May 2004 (EDT)
Evan: I would like to do some work on this but I don't want to get into a pissing contest, especially with you who have originated the whole site. I believe you should rule in this matter, even if it is perhaps not the wiki way. Here is what I propose: I will rewrite the article in my own namespace incorporating all the good factual stuff from the present article. I will stick very close to the country template and I believe it will turn out somewhat shorter, but still plenty rich. I prefer not to put in a great deal of history -- which, after all, is not in the template. I believe it would more properly be in an encyclopedia. Maybe we can link to Wikipedia.
BTW: Although still a "newbie" I detect, perhaps wrongly, some tension between Wikitravel and Wikipedia. I wish you would confirm whether this is a valid hunch on my part, as I think Wikitravel would benefit from such cross-referencing and then we could focus more tightly on the traveler, which is, presumably, our primary remit. And we would then be able to use our resources more efficiently to fill in some of the many, many gaps in Wikitravel. And if we don't like what's in Wikipedia, why we can change it. Wikipedia would also benefit from our inserting external links in it to Wikitravel articles.
Anyway: After I'm done -- it will take maybe only a couple days -- then you read it. If you like it, or feel it is a better base from which to work, then fine, we'll move it in. If not, that will be the end of it and we'll stick to what's there. If you have invested in the present article to the point where even without seeing my approach you would like to keep what you have, please tell me. It'll save my effort. I won't have any serious regrets and there's plenty of other things to work on here. William M Goetsch 14:51, 4 May 2004 (EDT)
PS: I've done a little here that you can look at to help make up your mind, but I'm going to stop now till I hear back from you.
Bill: A couple of responses. First, Maj and I don't claim any special privileges on Wikitravel. We happen to have been around since the beginning, so we've probably got better long-term perspective than newcomers, but besides that we don't get any final say. The traveller comes first around here, not the founders.
Second, there's no bad blood between Wikitravel and Wikipedia that I know of. Cooperating with Wikipedia is part of our Fellow Traveller Expedition, and we have special ways to make links to Wikipedia. Many Wikitravellers are current or former Wikipedians.
That's not to say that we're exactly the same as Wikipedia. We have a different culture, different goals, and different ideas. We're separate, but amicably so.
Third, it's always a good idea to link to Wikipedia, but it's also good to remember that Wikitravel is not just a Web travel guide. These guides are supposed to be useful when printed out, so just linking to other sites isn't enough. I think the history of the USA on this page is about the smallest capsule history we could come up with. It has just enough info so that someone visiting a Civil War battlefield (say) would have some idea what the Civil War was.
Lastly, I'll try to take a look at your ideas and comment on them on that page. It's usually easier for everyone if you just update the page you want to change, though. Thanks again for your help, -- Evan 16:26, 8 May 2004 (EDT)

Editing of the article

Though "history" was the major change, I started at the beginning and worked through history. So I made some other changes besides just history. I took out Cincinatti as a major travelers goal, for example, and I reworked "geography" some too along the way. I plan to edit "culture" next. My aim is to clean it up, condense it, and make it more objective, though much of the original text is remains.

My general feeling is still that the article is too long, and that history would be better addressed by a reference to Wikipedia (although I haven't looked at the quality of theirs which can be spotty). If I am going to Britain I would certainly not desire to read its history on Wikitravel.

Still, I have tried to use a scalpel here, not a sawzall, in deference to the work that has been put in to it. William M Goetsch 13:41, 9 May 2004 (EDT)

More work on the article including Get In to Eat and Drink. Some typos injected. Will get them later. William M Goetsch 12:10, 10 May 2004 (EDT)

Editing complete down to Drink. William M Goetsch 12:27, 11 May 2004 (EDT)

Hi William. I appreciate your contributions to this article, and like most of the improvements.
I wanted to make a mild objection to one of your removals though. I thought the old 'Respect' section had useful and vital advice for the traveler. In particular, I think travelers from other countries need to be aware of the dangers of discussing race with an American (my favorite quote from before: The subject is extremely nuanced, and it is highly unlikely that any foreign traveler will be able to navigate the minefield of American race relations without stepping on something extremely explosive), Okay, maybe it was a bit strong before, but at the very least we need to say to someone "don't try to initiate a conversation about race unless you really know what you're doing." To me, the parts of the old 'Respect' section which were a bit overdone did, at least, seem to serve the purpose of explaining to the traveler exactly why they need to avoid racial topics like the plague.
I'd like to see Respect brought back, but of course I'd also like to hear from you first since you've put so much effort into this of late -- Colin 00:54, 17 May 2004 (EDT)
Colin: Curiously, my parents lived in Fremont, I believe in the 70s, and I visited them there several times. Anyway, re: "Respect: My reasons for removal of this section, strangely enough, mirror my reason for removing the section on topless bathing: It has unfortunately not been my experience to see many women at a beach willy-nilly stripping off their bras without first looking around to what others were or were not doing. Visitors usually have pretty good sense. In a more serious vein, I have frequently, in my travels, introduced "locally sensitive" issues in my conversations -- to the extent my Spanish, or my interlocutor's English, permitted -- and as a consequence I sometimes learned things I would not have otherwise. In any case, "social warnings" like these, as opposed to warnings about walking alone at night in questonable places, do not usually have serious consequences, as locals usually make allowances for traveler's faux pas, if such they are. Regards, William M Goetsch 10:58, 17 May 2004 (EDT) (Bill).
And I had another thought, perhaps more directly to the point you raise: In my view it would be desirable to have a traveler bring up "race relations" in a conversation here. They probably already have a worse view of Americans in this respect than is actually the case. In the same way, were I conversing with a serious person in, say, Lebanon, I would not hesitate to bring up the topic of Islamist terrorism, a similarly fraught subject I'm sure you will agree. This is how the world and gets to know one another and, in the longrun, hopefully, straightens itself out. Travel is all about breaking down barriers. Bill William M Goetsch 11:25, 17 May 2004 (EDT)
I have to say I agree with William here. During my travels I talked about a number of sensitive subjects in different countries. In Turkey I had conversations about the Kurdish situation, in Malaysia about the tensions between the Chinese, Indian and bumiputra population, in Australia about the situation of the Aboriginal people, in Argentina about machismo, ... and I never felt any hostility from the people I talked with. Of course, you don't lecture people about what you think is right or wrong. But if you listen to them you can learn something about the topic and why it is the way it is. And most of the times it is not an offence to tell them that you and the people in your country think or act differently for such and such reason. Akubra 16:41, 17 May 2004 (EDT)
That said, I think having a 'Respect' section is helpful to make travellers aware of the local sensitivities and give some clues on how to behave (such as taking off your shoes before entering a Hindu temple). Blatantly telling a Turkish soldier that you support an independent Kurdistan is not the way to go, but you can always talk to me about the Flemish-Walloon situation in Belgium when you happen to be here :-) Akubra 16:57, 17 May 2004 (EDT)

Road Nomenclature

So here in the United States, we have the original highway system (Route 66), the Interstate Highway System (Interstate 80) and also state routes (California Route 1). Sometimes a state route (California 97) preserves the same number across a few states (Oregon, Washington 97) or provinces (B.C. 97). It seems like we really ought to have a standard way of specifying the roads. I see stuff on wikitravel like I-80, I80, Interstate 80, Route 66, US 66, SR 97, CA 97, etc. Shall we standardize how we type these darn things in?

So here's a proposal to start things off. I'm not much attached to these! This is just to start the conversation.

  • I-80 for Interstate 80. I see this dash stuff all the time on interstates. I don't know why it's only interstates that get the dash
  • US 66 for Route 66. Most maps don't make it clear that Route 66 is the same as US Highway 66 so it's nice to specify the US instead of Route
  • SR 97. It's an abbreviation for state route. Each state has a differently shaped sign for their state routes.

Comments please? -- Colin 23:51, 7 Jul 2004 (EDT)

There is no "California 97." It's "US 97," a route that continues with the same identity into Oregon and Washington. There are many highways like this, though they are not as predominant as they were prior to the advent of the Interstate Highway system. There are also "State Highways," officially and unofficially identified differently from state to state. (In some states, some abbreviation of the name of the state may precede the highway number, such as M-xx in Michigan; in others, the designation may simply be the word Route or Highway, while in others, the state's name may be used in full.)
State highways that cross state lines may keep the same number in both states, or the number may change as one crosses the border. In some cases, a state highway in one state will connect with a local road without a number in another. 4.243.146.84 01:14, 29 December 2006 (EST)

Oops, I hadn't seen this! I guess I agree with your proposal but it's also important to have some context for people. If you start just talking about "use the SR 97 to get there" it might not be clear that it's a road (versus a train or bridge or whatever)... And is "SR" a commonly used abbreviation? I haven't seen it... I'm just not sure how obvious the US road system is to someone from say, India, or Africa... but maybe I'm making assumptions. Majnoona 17:55, 30 Oct 2004 (EDT)

AAA uses the SR nominclature. This makes a small bit of sense to me since 1) you don't have to figure out the two letter abbrev for the state route (CA for California is obvious, but what does Idaho use?) and 2) if a state route crosses a state boundary, the number is frequently preverved.
You're right that this will confuse visitors from afar. So if we can agree on some kind of standard, we should explain the plethora of road names and how they are expressed in the USA article. Of course, this only helps folks who consult the USA article before going somewhere, but that's kinda how we do other stuff like phone numbers, so it seems like our style of doing things. We do, I think, need to at least explain the US Route / Interstate / State route division in the article.
I'm not super-attached to my proposal above. It was more just a point of reference for discussion. Do you have a preference for spelling out State Route or any other ideas? -- Colin 18:32, 30 Oct 2004 (EDT)

I'd prefer to refer to the highway by whatever name it is locally known (i.e. what it says on the signs). If a road is called "M-37" in Michigan and changes to "Indiana 37" in Indiana (it doesn't, but just for example), then call it "M-37" in articles about Michigan and "Indiana 37" in articles about Indiana. Because I honestly wouldn't recognize "State Route 37" or "S.R. 37" as being "M-37" (a road that nearly runs through my backyard). While it might be nice to nail down whether it's "US-69" or "U.S. 69" or whatever, I don't think completely consistency nationwide is necessary. (P.S. The reason interstates have a dash in the name is to make sure people don't mistake "I96" for "196".) - Todd VerBeek 19:06, 10 April 2007 (EDT)

I agree that if there is a local way of doing it, we should follow it. Here in Northern California, most people call it "Highway 11" whether it is a US Route, State Route, or Interstate. Though for Interstates, "Interstate 11" is just as common. And those darn Southern Californians call it "The 11" regardless of what it is. So we need an overall standard, but then alter that for states where they do have a commonly-used way of saying it. -- Colin 09:07, 12 April 2007 (EDT)
What people say probably isn't as useful as how it's identified on signs. People drop the prefixes, use traditional names, etc. in conversation, but I don't think we should do that here. What I meant is that, if state highways in Michigan are named "M-xx", then that's what we should call them in Michigan. - Todd VerBeek 08:10, 2 May 2007 (EDT)

Road designations

(Following section swept in from the Pub)

I'm not sure where a section should be inserted, or if I should declare style policy with at least some attempt at consensus, but it would be nice to have something. I posted the below to the MoS discussion page:

I can't find any other place discussing it, so I'll just kind of stick it in here. I've been using (at least in the US articles) what I think is the official designation system. Interstates are prefixed with "IH-", Non-interstate federal highways are prefixed with "US-", state roads are prefixed with "SH-" (I had to kick myself several times to stop using the prefix "TX-", which we Texans know isn't really official, but use any way), and others that might not be so popular across the country (I really don't know), like County Road ("CR-" here), Farm-to-Market Road ("FM-"), and Ranch Road ("RR-") are just spelled out. I wouldn't mind having a stated consensus on this though, especially with "FM-" (In Houston, at least, if you ask for "Farm to market road one nine six zero", you'll get a blank stare about half the time, but everyone knows of "FM ninteen sixty").

But I'm not familiar enough with even the whole US to tell which road types are widely known, and which just stick in my head. Please comment on the following list:

  • Interstate Highway "IH", widely known
  • US Highway "US", widely known
  • State Highway "SH", widely known
  • Farm-to-Market Road "FM", somewhat known
  • County Road "CR", mostly local
  • Ranch Road "RR", mostly local

Jordanmills 13:36, 10 April 2007 (EDT)

In my experience, interstates are always prefixed with "I-", and state highways vary by state (e.g. here in Michigan they're prefixed with "M-"). I don't think most people would understand "IH-" or "SH-". "FM-" and "RR-" are completely foreign to me, but if that's what the designation for a particular road is, so be it. The bottom line is that roads should be identified to by whatever name people use for them. - Todd VerBeek 16:40, 10 April 2007 (EDT)
I've seen it mostly as "IH-", but a quick look at the NHS web site [1] (which, I guess, is about as official as it gets) shows their regular use of "I-". I'd venture to say that your usage is more correct here. While I've also seen "SH-" and "SR-" used interchangably, the DOT/FHA also uses state-specific abbreviations for state highways and state routes. Additionally, there is apparently some difference between a "U.S. Highway" and "U.S. Route". Though I can't wade deep enough into the paperwork to figure out what it is. I may have dug myself too deep here. Jordanmills 18:44, 10 April 2007 (EDT)
Talk:United States of America#Road Nomenclature. I think we should have a Manual-of-Style entry for countries (or at least the major ones) describing our writing conventions. The country MoS would cover addresses, phone numbers, and highway stuff. The MoS for a country would not override the project-wide MoS, of course. -- Colin 17:30, 10 April 2007 (EDT)
Oh goody, link and discussion. I think country-specific MoS entries for country-specific naming conventions sounds like a good plan. Jordanmills 18:44, 10 April 2007 (EDT)

history

Net State http://www.netstate.com/ has detailed historical information on each state. Would this be appropriate to put in the United_States_of_America article ?

Probably not. We have Wikipedia links in the sidebar so that people can go to Wikipedia for more info on a location that's not strictly travel related. But putting in other links is too much of a slippery slope: there are heaps of sites about the history of many of the countries and destinations we list. -- Hypatia 13:15, 1 Nov 2004 (EST)

Internet TLD

Hmm, I would rather focus domains like .gov, .mil, .edu in quick bar. Domain .com is much more in international use.

To be precise, .gov and .mil are explicitly limited to the U.S. government and military respectively. .edu was originally a global TLD for educational institutions, but is currently restricted to those with U.S. accreditation (though some non-US institutions are grandfathered). On the other hand, .com, .net, and .org are international both in intended and actual use. There isn't any real logic in showing .com as a "US domain", nor in showing it but not .net and .org, unless commercial sites are the only sort of interest. Dtobias 15:20, 20 Aug 2005 (EDT)

Rollback

So, someone obviously worked really hard on this article recently, and I rolled back their changes. Here's why:

  • Having every single state listed under Regions is just waaaaaay too much info. It's better as it is now: links to general regions (like New England and the Midwest , with each region having links to particular states.
  • We don't need to have every single city in the US linked from Cities. We already picked out a small selection of really major cities for travellers; we don't need links to the top 20 or the top 50.

I think the key thing is remembering the 7+/-2 rule: make groups of links of around 5-9 items. If you have more items, break them down into sub-groups, and make new pages. --Evan 01:09, 7 Mar 2005 (EST)

Whoever did the work on the US today also expanded some of the region descriptions and other minor info. Since those changes looked good I've restored them. Hopefully that's OK. -- Wrh2 02:30, 7 Mar 2005 (EST)


No pictures!

The USA article currently has seventy-one (71) kilobytes of text and zero (0) pictures to accompany it! Surely there's a decent pic or two to slot in somewhere? Jpatokal 00:14, 5 May 2005 (EDT)

How about grabbing a couple of iconic images from the state/city pages? Maybe the Statue of Liberty shot from the New York (city) page and a Golden Gate Bridge shot from San Francisco? I'm sure there are probably other images that people associate heavily with America, but those are two suggestions. -- Wrh2 00:52, 5 May 2005 (EDT)

Scaring away the customers

As each author adds their own particular bugbear to this article the US is getting scarier and scarier and the article longer and longer. Gay bashing, monster storms, and my personal favorite: "[visitors] should familiarize themselves with the local climatology and pack clothes or items as appropriate." Sound as though our visitors are children: Be sure to pack your galoshes girls.

As to gay bashing I will challenge this paranoid author to name a city or state where there is no gay community, as he especially warns us to beware of. Start with Peoria Illinois ("If it plays in Peoria...). Doesn't he watch TV?

We can't put foam rubber on the playground of the whole US of A. Soon, reading this article, even if they can get a visa, they won't come. That would be too bad. Hey, a little wild and wooly is good for the soul.

Let us give a thought to balance.

William M Goetsch 16:29, 23 May 2005 (EDT)

Yes, junk does accumulate. Pointless stuff like "learn the climatology" should be deleted since it's obviously true for every destination. The gay bashing warning is exactly one short setence and pretty much says "you should be careful outside of SF/NY." I think that's fair. I live 30 miles from SF, and I think acting openly gay here would carry risks from some members of the local idiocracy. I reckon it could be fatal in parts of Mississipi. It's not that we are saying everyone outside SF is a homophobic murderer, it's just a "be careful" in case a gay visitor from another part of the globe is under the misaprehention that the US is filled with only accepting people. Colin 23:44, 23 May 2005 (EDT)
Well I'm not planning to take the warning out. I'm simply saying that the article on the United States seems to be building up with warnings much faster than any other country article. If one is gay and planning a trip to Morocco let's say, one is probably somewhat cautious before walking down the street holding hands with one's boyfriend. Yet, without looking, I would be willing to bet that the article on Morocco has not issued the same warning as does the United States article. I remember that a while back the United States article had a warning about nude beaches which I think I removed. I did this on the basis that rational people do not generally strip their clothes off at a beach willy nillie without looking around a little bit first. This is simply common sense. The United States article seems to be getting out of sync with comparable articles about other countries. I would prefer that authors with such fears, after adding them to the United States article, would add them as well to articles on other countries. And I would ask you whether you have taken the trouble to do this. The way it stands now, it looks like the United States is a pariah country out of sync with the rest of the world,yet in fact it is far more liberal than is most of the rest of the world, let's say Africa, the Middle East, India, China, Indonesia, and in fact the bulk of the population of the planet. So this displays us in a false bad light And plays on negative stereotypes which are building up around the world about our country. This discourages travelers From coming here which I feel is a bad thing. This is what I mean by balance.

William M Goetsch 15:00, 24 May 2005 (EDT)

I think the gay bashing warning goes too far. For example, the United Arab Emirates safety section says this: "The crime rate is extremely low in the United Arab Emirates, so there is nothing in particular to be concerned about, just be vigilant." Yet, homosexuality is punishable by death. I'd say that's something to worry about. If there are statistics that show a significant threat to homosexual tourists, then I think the comment is legitimate but the statistics should also be provided. In general the article seems absurdly anti-American and I'm a liberal blue-stater.

Feel free to plunge forward and make changes in the tone and content of the article. --Evan 15:50, 7 Jan 2006 (EST)

Auto-favorable bias

I changed much of the auto/train/bus entries. There is a difference between acknowledging widespread auto use in the U.S. and the author's assertion that this is "what America prefers." A little research into free-market economics will enlighten one to why auto-use is so popular, given its inefficiencies with energy use and its limited use in creating the places most likely to be visited in the U.S. (SF, NY, Chicago). Subsidized infrastructure for autos, of which there is no toll for use, will undoubtedly be chosen in favor of paying for travel on private lines which must maintain their own rights-of-way, or even government lines that are woefully underfunded and expected to maintain some semblance of national service. Er go, widespread auto use.

In terms of legibility your changes were much for the worse and I've reverted half of them. This is not Wikipedia and our focus is not on subsidized infrastructure, but getting around the US as the traveler sees it, and "America's love affair with the car is legendary" is a fact even if you, or for that matter I, don't like it. Jpatokal 21:27, 22 Jun 2005 (EDT)

POV in "Drink"

The drink section of this article seems to be very POV or non-sensical. Sentences such as:

  • Asking for liquor plus mixer will sometimes get you funny looks, but you'll get what you want,
  • You will find that the wines served in most bars and taverns in America is of the "bulk" variety, not very good, and often not served in proper glasses.
  • Of course this fad may become extinct at any time.
  • Some states also have a weird thing called 3.2 beer which is 3.2% alcohol.

I don't know enough about this stuff to change it myself, so I thought I'd put it here. Bob rulz 23:27, 26 Jul 2005 (EDT)

The article says that 80% of Americans drink regularly. I don't know where the author found this number, but it seems way to high. The American Council for Drug Education says nearly half of Americans over twelve drink, so 80% seems pretty ludicrous and may need to be ammended. Ajrhobby 23:49, 7 May 2006 (EDT)

Less than half seems improbably low to me. I just did some quick Googling for stats and what I found was all over the map... I suspect it depends a lot on how you define drink "regularly". Regardless, we don't need a statistic; just saying that its commonplace (as you changed it) is good enough. - Todd VerBeek 07:54, 8 May 2006 (EDT)
Hi Bob rulz. Are you aware that Wikitravel has no NPOV requirement? A travel guide, unlike an encyclopedia does not need a neutral point of view. Rather we try to be fair. Just thought you should know before you start complaining about POV. -- Mark 11:58, 8 May 2006 (EDT)
"Bob" posted those comments almost a year ago; I'm not sure he's still watching this page. :) And his criticism of some of it as nonsensical (or just odd) is valid, which is why most of that verbiage is gone now. - Todd VerBeek 12:14, 8 May 2006 (EDT)
I know. I just like to stomp all over POV and NPOV when I see the issue raised. Wikipedians dragging NPOV over here and insisting on it is one of my pet peeves, so I'd rather not leave an instance of somebody calling POV in a talk page unanswered. -- Mark 12:33, 8 May 2006 (EDT)

Mobile phones

" Consequently, one you purchased in another part of the world will probably not work in the US. "

I'm not too sure about that, most phones now days at Tri-band and should absoloutley work in the states as most GSM providers here from Cingular to T-mobile have roaming agreements with foreign carriers. I took my Tri-band GSM phone to Europe and used it all over the continent and the British Isles without a problem.

Regions

I'd just like to throw in my two cents in favor of the existing regions. Only a bureaucrat could love, or even understand, what eg. "North West Central" is supposed to mean... Jpatokal 23:00, 19 Sep 2005 (EDT)

What he said. -- Colin 23:05, 19 Sep 2005 (EDT)
Here, here. -- Ilkirk 13:11, 20 Sep 2005 (EDT)

duh. I read that diff a little too quickly

and yep, it's Dallas, Texas (like San Francisco, California))

Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood has long been listed as a resource in this article, and is persistently deleted. Many of us routinely restore the section and I thought it best to add a discussion here of this so that anyone who thinks it inappropriate would have both the reasons for it and a place to discuss it further. Here are my reasons why I think it appropriate:

  1. PP provides general reproductive services and counseling. A traveller who stays a few months could reasonably have a need for any of the services.
  2. I assume the traveller already has an opinion about abortion. The article does not provide advice about the subject, but merely an informational pointer. Note that this info serves to prepare the traveller about what to expect from Planned Parenthood -- even an anti-abortion traveller might want to know about this in order to either avoid PP altogether or to plan on refusing PP's advice before receiving counseling.
  3. Some travellers -- particularly young and unwealthy travellers from countries with socialized medicine -- need all the pointers to free medical services they can get. Thus we also point out that emergency rooms must serve the poor and uninsured.

-- Colin 02:42, 21 Oct 2005 (EDT)

Thanks for getting the discussion going. I think this is a good case where the traveller comes first.
I'll be a little more pointed: I think that for many 20-40 year old travellers, reproductive services (including birth control and, yes, STD treatment) are going to be their main non-emergency health need.
By the way, I also think we could use some info on how to get other medical treatment with national health cards from various countries. --Evan 21:14, 21 Oct 2005 (EDT)
As far as I know, hospitals are required by law to treat all patients with emergencies, regardless of ability to pay.

There is simply no good reason to include a mention of abortion in a travel section. The traveller is unlikely to stumble into a Planned Parenthood office in the first place, and even if one who did was pro-life, they probably would not be overly offended anyway.

The traveller here for a few months who finds him or herself in need of "reproductive services" could easily find them by themself, in the phone book or on an internet search.

This kind of reminds me of the many travel books that almost assume or at least implicitly accept the traveller will engage in (usually) promiscuous sexual activity while travelling.

--User:Jakes18 16:27, 22 Oct 2005 (CDT)

First, it is not easy finding services like this in the phone book in the US. Some Pro-life groups routinely advertise deceptively described services to trick someone into visiting them instead -- and then become advocates against various behaviors. Second, the pointer does no harm to someone not seeking the services. Third, is it your theory that young Frenchmen (as a randomly chosen example traveller) will suddenly adopt the mores of conservative US while visiting?
Romance and travel do go together. And while by no means is it a universal sentiment, one ought to acknowledge that for many locations on the planet, sexuality and romance go together. Sure, you and I may think it unwise, but we don't get to decide the actions of the individuals involved in a romance, do we?
Lastly, we make decisions here by consensus. You must first lobby for a change in consensus -- which clearly is against you at present -- before you make a change in the article. Playing dictator upon the article will not work. -- Colin 18:34, 22 Oct 2005 (EDT)
This is getting a little silly. I don't care either way, but it seems that this revert war has got to be settled in some fashion... -- Ilkirk 14:26, 24 Oct 2005 (EDT)
I personally don't care either way whether planned parenthood stays or goes, but any effort to bully a change through without discussion is going to get reverted. At the moment there is one person arguing vehemently that it be removed without (IMHO) providing any compelling arguments, and several people arguing that it is a valuable piece of information. The policies of Wikitravel are very clear that in that case the information stays, although people should work together to find some text that is more acceptable to everyone. -- Wrh2 14:53, 24 Oct 2005 (EDT)
So it looks like we have the options of either pandering to Jake and letting his edit stick, or reverting it a couple of times per day until he gets bored. Perhaps somebody should write a "Jake's edit war" bot to deal with this specific unwanted edit? -- Mark 05:46, 25 Oct 2005 (EDT)
He'll get bored eventually and it's not like clicking "[rollback]" every now and then is going to be a major chore. I'm just afraid that this is just the harbinger of future Wikipedia-like flamage when snack packs of assorted nuts discover (Former Yugoslav Republic of) Macedonia, (Illegally Occupied) Northern Cyprus, (Part of China) Taiwan, etc... Jpatokal 05:58, 25 Oct 2005 (EDT)

Size rankings

A user keeps changing the size ranking of the United States based on comparison with China combined with Taiwan. I believe we should recognize the objective existing state of things rather than concern ourselves with the subjective of what some people wish things were -- especially since there are various groups with different, mutually exclusive subjective wishes.

At the very least, go fight it out on Wikipedia first. -- Colin 20:26, 2 Nov 2005 (EST)

Just to muddy the waters, the CIA world factbook colors the China map to include Taiwan, but lists the total area of China as 9.59 million square km (http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ch.html). Personally this seems a silly thing to argue about, so maybe we could just re-word the offending sentence to read something like "The United States is one of the largest countries in the world based on land area (9.6 million km2) and on population (approximately 300 million)". -- Ryan 20:31, 2 Nov 2005 (EST)
That will just make him target the China area stat next. I'd prefer to just follow Wikipedia's decision on this -- they have more time for arguing than we do :-) -- Colin
I say we just let him have his way. A traveller only needs ballpark figures anyhow. -- Mark 23:36, 2 Nov 2005 (EST)
I don't care about the status of the US in a list. I care that we don't establish a practice of allowing Irredentist claims or other transnational claims, of which there are a slippery-slopeful, to override reporting about the actual facts on the ground. As an example of this principle, we have an article about Transnistria despite the wholehearted lack of international recognition (or even any example of disinterested recognition) for the country. How many countries claim bits of Antarctica, for example. Arguing about the current facts on the ground will forestall involvement in arguments regarding which country has the "right" to each piece of dirt. -- Colin 02:43, 3 Nov 2005 (EST)
I'm right there with you on the annoying nature of Irredentism. For me the important thing is that the thing travellers need to know about a place is who is in charge now. It might be interesting background that somebody else claims a place for some reason, but that's not the main point. I want to stress that the reason we mainly talk about current control is that that's what matters to the traveller. -- Mark 04:44, 3 Nov 2005 (EST)
The population of Taiwan is about 22 million. I don't understand how including or excluding Taiwan from the totals for China (1.3 billion) would change the ranking of the United States (295 million) as third in population behind China and India (1 billion). Is there a reason that Taiwan matters even in the slightest in this comparison? --Evan 23:54, 2 Nov 2005 (EST)
Duh -- I see now. The question is about area rather than population. The CIA Factbook area rankings includes Taiwan and still shows the US as larger. --Evan 00:03, 3 Nov 2005 (EST)


This is really easy to understand. The US breaks China up in it's statistics for a purely political reason, and who is the US to say how large China is? The CIA statistic excludes Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, which are ALL a part of China.

Whether Taiwan is part of China or not is highly debatable. I would contend that it is not, and historically never been, except for a few decades in this century. However, whatever Taiwan's status, its land area is very small compared to that of the mainland, so it shouldn't make very much difference as to China's ranking in size.
Honk Kong and Macau are much smaller than Taiwan, at least in terms of land area, so whether their area is included or not is irrelevant. 4.243.146.84 01:22, 29 December 2006 (EST)
It's even easier to understand that this is not an encyclopedia. The important thing is that Travellers don't care. Just round the numbers off, and say "the US and China around around the same size". And please sign your posts. -- Mark 04:02, 3 Nov 2005 (EST)

"Mountain states" rather than "Rocky Mountains"?

There is discussion currently occurring on the Rocky Mountains (United States of America) article, as to whether a different name for this region should be found. The problem is that --

  • on the one hand, it is misleading to lump states (notably Utah) into this region that don't have much to do with the actual mountain chain, since people not familiar with the Rockies will want a useful guide to them; while
  • on the other hand, there is a lot more to the states covered in the region than merely the Rockies.

My proposal is to call the region either "Mountain states," "Mountain West," or "Rocky Mountain States," in each case with the obvious (United States of America) extension, and then modify the existing article so that it is part of the Rocky Mountains hierarchy rather than describing a region of the US. Content can then develop as appropriate for the two distinct articles in a way that makes them coherent and useful. Any thoughts on this? -- Bill-on-the-Hill 18:36, 31 Dec 2005 (EST)

I think that Mountain States is a good name. I do not think ther is a need to disambiguate with (United States of America) because Mountain States is also a play on words as in the States for USA, so Mountain States is fairly obviously the States in the United States of America that have Mountains in them, or are at least in the Mountain time zone. I do not think Mountain States would be confused with any other country's states with mountains, though if that does happen then we could disambiguate, or call it a famous place. -- Huttite 19:19, 31 Dec 2005 (EST)
OK, if there is no dissent in the next few days, I'm going to make this change. Speak now or forever be subjected to edits... -- Bill-on-the-Hill 18:59, 7 Jan 2006 (EST)
Would this not confuse people about other mountain areas in the US? You have the Appalachians, Ozark Mountains, Black Hills, Cascade Mountains and many others. Would all of these be "Mountain States"? I think the name should be more specific, as Mountain States is very ambiguous. Just my 2-cents. Xltel 21:41, 7 Jan 2006 (EST)
"Mountain West," then? Point is, Rocky Mountains is unsatisfactory. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 21:54, 7 Jan 2006 (EST)
I know that I am joining in very late on this discussion and of course I am more then willing to go with "Mountain West", but could I suggest a couple of alternatives, "Western Mountain Region" or "Western Mountain States". Any comments? Xltel 22:15, 7 Jan 2006 (EST)

Last call for discussion on this. There appears to be consensus that there is value to the change, and "Mountain West" appears to have the most advantages and fewest problems. Accordingly, unless there is dissent, I'll make the change to "Mountain West" over the weekend, with Rocky Mountains (United States of America) becoming a sub-region (which is about to get populated with all sorts of stuff). -- Bill-on-the-Hill 23:48, 20 Jan 2006 (EST)

Go for it! -- Mark 05:46, 21 Jan 2006 (EST)
I missed the last call, but I agree! -- Xltel 12:32, 21 Jan 2006 (EST)
I find the name "Mountain West" sub-optimal. I would never call this area "Mountain West", and I don't know anyone who would. I realize that "Rocky Mountains" and "Mountain States" are both ambiguous, but we're writing a travel guide, not a geography text book.
Considering our only difference right now between Rocky Mountains (United States of America) and Mountain West (United States of America) is that New Mexico is part of the first but not the second (which doesn't even really make sense, if the second is part of the first), could we instead just put an advisory on the Rocky Mountains page that other states have Rocky Mountains in them (and, indeed, parts of Canada)? --Evan 12:55, 21 Jan 2006 (EST)
No! No! NO!! The Rocky Mountains are a mountain range; the Mountain West is a region! They are distinct concepts. The Mountain West region contains a lot of other stuff beside the Rockies, and it is severely misleading to restrict that region, in the eye of the reader, to the mountain range. Meanwhile, the range fits neatly within the region apart from the New Mexico outlier, and also ties nicely to the overall Rocky Mountains article with its Canada counterpart.
The floor has been open on this one for a couple of weeks now, with what I think is a pretty clear consensus that the change could and should be made. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 13:07, 21 Jan 2006 (EST)
Bill -- sorry I didn't pipe in before; I realize you've done a lot of work on this already and I should have spoken up before.
I realize that the Rocky Mountains are a mountain range with a specific area that does not directly map to the borders of these states, but I think the "Rocky Mountain region" is a pretty well-established term in the vernacular. The Mid-Atlantic region is not literally in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, but we use the term to refer to that section of the Eastern seaboard. The Great Plains extend into more than the states mentioned -- some of the Rocky Mountain states, for example.
I've reverted your change; I'm sorry, but I just didn't like the way it worked. I've tried to answer some of your concerns by making some other changes. First, Utah is now unambiguously in the Southwest, which seems to have been a source of difficulty. I've also noted that NM isIn the Southwest but contains a significant portion of the Rocky Mountains, so it's also isIn Rocky Mountains. I'm working on the code to show more than one breadcrumb list on the top of the page (we need it for a lot of areas, not just NM), so in the next week or so NM will appear in both regions.
We typically don't have articles about geographical features like bodies of water, mountain ranges, plains, deserts, etc. However, I can see setting up some "extra-hierarchical" regions for particularly important features. I don't think we need to interpose another level of hierarchy into the system to note the relationship.
What if we change the name of the Rocky Mountains region to "Mountain States" (no disambiguator) and make a new article, Rocky Mountains, to specifically discuss the mountain range? And if we keep the two regions ("Mountain States" and "Southwest") more or less composed as they are now? With notes that Utah and New Mexico straddle both? --Evan 13:40, 21 Jan 2006 (EST)
I really disagree with this change for a couple of reasons, the biggest being that "Montains West" is not the most commonly used name for the area. Seeing it out of context, I'd have no idea what you're refering too. "Rocky Mountains" or "Rocky Mountain region" on the other hand, is used by every tourism authority I could find, plus libraries and map cataloging and classification systems ([2] defines is as "Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming"). A google search for "united states" "mountains west" doesn't get you anywhere. I just don't see this change being useful to travellers. I would go along with a clarification such as "Rocky Mountain States" (even though that doesn't quite go along with our usual naming conventions...). I'd be less happy with "Mountain states" but even that is clearer than "Mountains West" -- though it makes me think we'd spliting the country up by time zone or something. Majnoona 14:35, 21 Jan 2006 (EST)
I disagree with Mountain States for reasons stated previously. Just too ambiguious. I am sure the "Green Mountain State" of Vermont would for sure want to be in the Mountain States. Anyone not from Vermont is called a "flatlander". I think the name should have "West" and/or "Rocky" in it. How about "Rocky Mountain Region". Just add a disambig. Xltel 15:18, 21 Jan 2006 (EST)
Is Vermont also mad about not being included in the Mountain Time Zone ;-)? I think we usually try not to include the label in article names (ie not "California State" "Mission District" "Downtown Neighborhood"), but is that's really the only compromise we can find, I wont argue against "Rocky Mountain Region" Majnoona 15:28, 21 Jan 2006 (EST)
Alrighty then. For the record my observations tell me Vermonters are pretty passive. :) But, I am a hillbilly from the Ozarks.... ahhhhh... (more mountain states!!!) and only spent six months in Vermont I didn't really think of any division across time zones and I have seen cases where we have overlap in regions, districts, states, etc. I was just thinking of people recognizing the area for people in the U.S. and if any foreign visitor is asking someone about "Mountain States". True, The real mountains in the states are the Rockies, but there are some people that will not accept that, heck I lived in Poteau, Oklahoma for 27 years and they are sure they have the "World's Highest Hill. I certainly will to go with the consensus also. Thanks.... Xltel 18:21, 21 Jan 2006 (EST)

Sigh ... Look: the problem, however we want to wordsmith it, is that another page is needed that fits more smoothly into the "regions" hierarchy than Rocky Mountains (United States of America) does. There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is a newcomer in the form of the (welcome) ability that we'll soon have for doing two isIn breadcrumbs per article. The existing RM(USA) article fits nicely under the upper-level Rocky Mountains article, but something else is needed for the US regional hierarchy.

I really don't have a powerful preference for "Mountain West" over "Mountain States" over "Rocky Mountain States" over "Rocky Mountain Region" over who-knows-what, but let's do something and have it stick. I thought -- thought -- we had arrived at "Mountain West" via the usual and proper process of consensus building. Apparently not. So how about "Rocky Mountain Region (United States of America)" for the region name? Does THAT satisfy everybody? I repeat: we need a new name, and I would like to start working soon on populating the things the next ply down from this region. Can we FINALLY reach closure on this? (P.S. Thanks for the e-mail, Evan.) -- Bill-on-the-Hill 22:27, 21 Jan 2006 (EST)

Ah, that's the problem. The usual and proper process for consensus building in a wiki is as far as I can tell to do something and see who complains. There have been those who argue for trying to talk something out first, but for some reason that sort of conflict avoidance seems to leave questions unresolved for months or even years. Plunging forward will bring consensus quicker. That's why I said "Go for it". -- Mark 04:31, 22 Jan 2006 (EST)

Driving/renting a car with an IDP

The get around section needs to be updated with that information. How easy is it? Does the legality vary by state? Can I rent, but with higher insurance? --Ravikiran 07:09, 2 Jan 2006 (EST)

The ones I have checked (Hertz, Avis, Alamo, Thrifty) do not accept an IDP alone. I suspect it will be difficult to rent in the US with a International Driving Permit alone. Xltel 12:08, 4 Jan 2006 (EST)

IRS rules on tipping

I don't think your average furriner really needs to know how the IRS handles tips or even about the largely-theoretical employer compensation for insufficient tipping; I do think they should know that tips are both expected and an essential part of waitstaff salary. Jpatokal 03:32, 4 Jan 2006 (EST)

I consider that important since it further explains why tips are both expected and an essential part of waitstaff salary. Arbitrary deletions without complying to well-established policies may be as bad as biting newcomers. English Wikipedia has had some problems of this kind. Why should we have arbitrary deletions that may discourage less experienced users from editing?--Jusjih 03:50, 4 Jan 2006 (EST)
Well, no, actually it doesn't explain that; if anything, to me it seemed to obliquely imply that it's OK not to tip. Why not just say that it's legal to pay waitstaff less than minimum wage, because their tips are expected to make up the difference?
And it's not an arbitrary deletion if I explain the logic for it, which I did above. Newbies are nice, but I'm a fervent believer in tight prose and regularly revert edits that add a lot of bulk with little if any information (eg. [3], which seems a reasonable addition on the surface, but actually tells the traveler little if anything of use). Jpatokal 04:13, 4 Jan 2006 (EST)
You know I saw the little back and forth on the recent change list, so I figured I'd read what was removed - it didn't make any sense to me! I read it twice and still couldn't figure out how it affected how I should tip. I live in the US and deal with the IRS every year, so I think that someone from outside the country would be even more confused! Maybe if whatever that meant was translated into something straightforward, it'd be useful. -- Ilkirk 11:08, 4 Jan 2006 (EST)
I agree with Ilkirk. The IRS stuff struck me as being encyclopedic type information, but the writing to me seemed a bit, well, difficult to read. Perhaps the same thing could make a sort of entertaining inset box if it's done well though. -- Mark 12:43, 4 Jan 2006 (EST)
You may have misunderstood. I would like to say that since the IRS steps in to employers, undertipping will increase employers' burdens. It is what makes tipping more important. If you insist to remove contents without strong reasons, would you like to discourage others from editing or face more wasteful edit wars? In this case, I can use Wikipedia instead.--Jusjih 18:45, 4 Jan 2006 (EST)
Please don't take it that way! We understand that new users are sometimes discouraged by their edits not sticking, but unfortunately, while we want new editors to feel welcome and comfortable plunging forward we also have to make reasonable editorial decisions. Some of us do try to be very careful about explaining why we are doing things, but of course since anybody can edit Wikitravel then anybody can undo an edit as well.It seems to me that the removal was for two very strong reasons in this case: The information seemed tangential, and it was very difficult to read and understand. I think that you have made a good point (below) that some people will still refuse to tip regardless of how it hurts the employee, and that we have to point out that it hurts the employer too. I'll try to re-word the section to bring this out. -- Mark 12:43, 6 Jan 2006 (EST)

There's a very simple rule on Wikitravel: Wikitravel:The traveller comes first. Can you explain why is it relevant for travellers to understand the complexities of operating a business in the United States? If you can't, then I'm afraid it doesn't belong on Wikitravel. Jpatokal 21:19, 4 Jan 2006 (EST)

I have heard of certain Japanese travellers not tipping at restaurants at all, so I consider if we explain to them how the simple IRS rule affects restaurants, it is relevant to travellers since some travellers may not have fully understood why tipping is even more important. I do not consider my edits against that written rule here (Wikitravel:The traveller comes first), but your removal could become destructive. If you are still so persuasive against that piece of info as "encyclopedic", I can just add relevant links and info to Wikipedia instead of wasting too much time fighting your opinions while I have more important things to do. Next time, please use Wikipedia to move something encyclopedic thereto.--Jusjih 19:30, 5 Jan 2006 (EST)

Here's what it says now:

Theoretically, tipping is discretionary, but in practice, except in the most extreme cases (i.e. grossly substandard service which management refuses to address), Americans will always leave a tip. Indeed, because it's legal to pay waitstaff less than minimum wage, tips often form the majority of a waiter's or waitress's income.

Good enough? And you're welcome to contribute on Wikipedia, but due to the incompatible licenses I can't just take your text and put it there without your permission... Jpatokal 21:56, 5 Jan 2006 (EST)

Okay, I have moved the text to Wikipedia:List of faux pas myself using the same user name. Because I have written the text myself, is it good enough to comply with the license requirement?--Jusjih 05:08, 10 Jan 2006 (EST)

External links / hotel guides

An anonymous user today added hotels.com, expedia.com and a few others to the hotel section of this article, and the change was rolled back with the Wikitravel:External links policy being cited. However, for the entire United States aren't each of these primary sources for booking hotels online? When I travel from state to state that's what I would use to look for a hotel, so I don't see that they wouldn't be appropriate for someone visiting and looking for hotel info about the US. If the same links were added to a city article I could see that they would be inappropriate, but for the US article they seem like valuable resources. Any objection to rolling the change back? -- Ryan 16:49, 29 Jan 2006 (EST)

I reverted this because it appeared to be an attempt to add www.roomrate.com as a spam link. The addition of expedia and hotels.com was attempt to vail the addition of roomrate.com. The anonymous user had been adding this link to several cites over the past few hours. As far as having links to expedia hotels.com, I would not think they are needed, but would not object to having the added. Hope that explains the revert. Thanks -- Xltel 16:57, 29 Jan 2006 (EST)
OK, didn't realize there was a spammer involved. I've added a brief mention of online hotel reservation sites (not including the spammer site) that is similar in format to the paragraph under "Get in" about online airline ticket sites. Since those outside of the US may not know what are reputable travel sites this should hopefully be useful info. -- Ryan 19:25, 29 Jan 2006 (EST)
The common booking sites are not primary sources since they are not the Official Sites of *any* hotel. A primary source is the Official website of something, which need not be the same as a Really Useful Website. So motel6.com okay, expedia.com not okay according to policy. I fear a slippery slope. It seems like every page which contains exceptions becomes a weblink dumping ground. Anyway, personally I choose to ignore the links for now, but if it becomes a dumping ground I'd be inclined to nuke the section. -- Colin 20:44, 29 Jan 2006 (EST)

Removal of General Hotel Booking Sites

I believe that your policy on external links, while in general appropriate to prevent spamming, appears arbitrary at best and most likely violates your own rules. The inclusion of certain links are clearly commercial in nature while excluding others has an arbitrary and capricious effect.

To the extent sites are linked that offer services or information that is useful to viewers in context to the subject matter, there is little substantive basis for imposing removal other than an editors attempt at determining whether something is intended as "spam". In the case of roomrate, expedia, orbtiz, etc.., the inclusion of the links is appropriate.

Similarly, the fact the contributor added other links also have contextual value appears not be a relevant basis for making a decision. On the face of it, the removed language and sites should be permitted.

In support of the above, I refer to the following as stated in goals:

"For on-line use by travelers on the road, huddled in a late-night Internet café in some dark jungle, who need up-to-the-minute information on lodging, transportation, food, nightlife, and other necessities"

Under non-goals:

Build a Web directory. Wikitravel articles can and should have links to external resources about destinations, itineraries, travel-oriented companies, and other travel-related Web sites. However, it's not a goal to collect all links about any destination. External links should support and complement the content of articles; they're not a goal in and of themselves.

Accordingly, it is requested that the material be restored.

Thank You

First, the external link policy does not care whether the linked site is commercial or not. Second, up-to-date info is about having information here at wikitravel, it is not about linking to useful sites -- if it was, we'd just replace the main page with a link to lonelyplanet.com and declare ourselves done. Third, the links we allow are things like linking to motel6.com when describing a particular motel, not linking for links to other stuff unaffiliated with the hotel like AAA. Lastly if you think your website conforms with the extlink policy, you need to read the policy much more carefully since it is crystal clear that your website is exactly the kind of thing the policy excludes. -- Colin 20:50, 29 Jan 2006 (EST)

Response by Editors

The response to my inquiry was a bit chilly, but I understand the nature of the constant abuse you must deal with. However, I do not understand how the submissions amount to spamming or any other type of untoward conduct. In this regard, I apologize for adding links that are in any way misleading or not useful, or contrary to the policies. However, as a general matter, I find it troubling that roomrate.com can not be included.

The fact that direct hotel sites can be listed but services that offer specific information about hotels for an entire city can not seems unfair.

The fact that the policy fails to mention "commercial" was not the point I was trying to raise. The point is that sites are added that are commercial while others are not. Either they should be added on the basis of merit or special relevance, or none should be added.

I did add several listings for a variety of cities (maybe 7) and I made the listings each linking to the relevant local links that match the destination content. I did not see that as spamming or abusive. I believed it constituted good and fair conduct. I did include other links to major sites not to "hide" spamming, but because it would be unfair to not include major brands.

Whatever your decisions are, I do apologize if you believe I was abusing the system. I do wish you would reconsider because I think it is fair and appropriate to include them.

I wish you well. I understand that you have to deal with abuse, and I understand the terse response, but that was/is not the intent.

Let's be clear: we don't think that external links to aggregate sites are spammy or abusive. We understand that you have good intentions, and I'm sure your hotel information site is interesting and useful.
Our external links policy is to link to primary sources; it's clearly explained. I think we all realize that you meant no harm by adding your links; you just weren't clear about our policy.
I wish you well with roomrate.com, and I hope that this first negative response doesn't keep you from contributing information to Wikitravel in the future. --Evan 23:50, 29 Jan 2006 (EST)

America's attic?!

I don't know about you, but an attic does not sound like a pleasant place to visit. Although the section on New England is otherwise quite solid, there's a somewhat pejorative slant to the description of this region as a musty storeroom. It's a clever turn of phrase but, I think, inappropriate in this context. -- Venicemenace 2/1/06

It is a clever turn of phrase. And let's put it in perspective here:
New England -- America's attic, home to gabled churches and antiques, New England offers rocky beaches, spectacular seafood, rugged mountains, frequent winter snows, and historic cities. These states are small, so you could visit all of them reasonably within a week.
Are you sure that really sounds pejorative? --Evan 16:50, 1 Feb 2006 (EST)

I still maintain, in the context of a travel article, it's not exactly an alluring description. Cleverness aside, I don't think it's particularly apt either. Two thumbs up on recognizing that the Midwest is more complex than its rep: here you simply echo New England's rep. The first sentence would be stronger without the first two words; and in addition, it would no longer be a run-on. Keep up the good work. -- Venicemenace

I think your change would be okay and accepted. I suggest you plunge forward and edit the page. I see you are signing with "Venicemenace", I also suggest you register with that name and join in on the fun. It's not required to register to edit, but it makes communications better. Your input and help is very much welcome. Thanks -- Xltel 17:29, 1 Feb 2006 (EST)
In all truth attics can be pretty durn nice. I always ask for an attic room when visiting a ski town for instance. Still I welcome Venicemenace to plunge forward, and put the axe to the attic if that's what she feels is necessary. Still I think there are probably better ways to fix the run-on (without making it dry).
On the utility of logging in, I see it as a mere convenience for the user, as logged in users are actually in some ways slightly more anonymous than un-logged in users. -- Mark 21:32, 1 Feb 2006 (EST)

Comments appreciated. FYI, I am a dude. - Vm

That would be another utility of logging in: in addition to masking your IP you get to create a user page which tells us about yourself. - Mark 04:46, 2 Feb 2006 (EST)

FYI: The Smithsonian Institution [ www.smithsonian.org ] is colloquially refered to as 'America's Attic' because it houses in its extraordinarily diverse collection much of the most significant cultural artifacts of American history - eg. The Flag sewn by Betsy Ross and Archie Bunker's chair. One might also read: http://www.answers.com/topic/smithsonian-institution -- User:MatthewStevenCarlos/MatthewStevenCarlos 13:00 09 May 2006

President's day

Isn't President's day a holiday important to mention? I had to scramble for breakfast today because my usual place was shut --Ravikiran 13:42, 20 Feb 2006 (EST)

I just added it and Veterans Day; so all federal holidays are listed. It's a bit unusual for Presidents Day to close a restaurant, but certainly anything that closes banks and post offices is worth listing. Jonboy 14:02, 20 Feb 2006 (EST)

Religion in America

Dubious changes alert

Two IP users have made additions which look dubious to me [4] but AssumeGoodFaith prevents me from rolling back. Someone please check. — Ravikiran 01:46, 16 March 2006 (EST)

I agree with the deletion. The addition of Groundhog day serves no serious purpose. -- Colin 01:50, 16 March 2006 (EST)

Over-explanation

Guys, you've got a great article here, but occasionally it treats the traveller like an idiot from the Stone Age. I'll give some examples:

One thing that may at first startle visitors from more conservative countries is the number of women that go to bars, both accompanied by men, unaccompanied, and in groups.

Take-out food is also very common. You will order by phone and then usually drive to the restaurant to pick it up and take it away. Many places will also deliver this type of food to your hotel or home.

Barbeque, BBQ, or barbecue is uniquely USA and can be delicious.

Hard alcohol is usually drunk with a "mixer", such as tonic water, cola, or another type of "soda"

One dance format probably unfamiliar to foreign visitors is country music, a musical form derived from traditional folk tunes but played with electric instruments.

Prior to the popularity of personal cell phones, public telephones ("pay phones" which accept coins)

America is a highly technological country, with over 75% of its population having Internet access.

People outside the US have heard of BBQ, they've had mixers before, they've experienced take-out, they've seen American women going out alone on TV, they know what a payphone is and, perhaps astonishingly, a they've heard of Shania Twain. It probably takes an foreigner to see this, but the article is actually pretty condescending. It assumes that people the world over are entirely ignorant of American culture. This is really not the case! Remember that everyone gets a lot of US movies and TV programs, plus music, food exports and celebrities.

You should worry more about dispelling incorrect preconceptions about the US (e.g. that everyone is a crazy fundamentalist, or that New York is permanently bathed in flattering light) than about educating travellers on every last wonder of American life (most of which we already have). Especially remember that this is an English-language website that will probably be used by relatively wealthy tourists from industrialised countries (Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the UK and Ireland, South Africa), so no need to go on about people from "conservative countries".

I'm going to delete most of those sentences, but keep a watch out for that kind of stuff creeping back in. Polocrunch, 19.04.06

Thanks, the US article is getting a bit long and probably does explain too much, so these look like good changes to me. -- Ryan 17:57, 19 April 2006 (EDT)
I'm generally in agreement with the anonymous user above that this article, while containing a lot of great information, has tended to become long-winded and to over-explain. I've edited down the "Culture" section a bit to remove (among other things) a description of what "culture" means and a discussion of statistics on immigration from a previous census. I don't think we necessarily need to remove that much from this article, but much of what is there can be stated more clearly and succinctly. -- Ryan 11:56, 27 May 2006 (EDT)

Regions

  • Florida should be part of the South or Southeast.
  • Texas is part of the Southwest - it's debatable that California is too.
  • Perhaps the Great Lakes Region should be broken out from the Midwest. The character of the two regions are quite different, though the agricultural lands are similar.

--User:Mayor pez 05:50, 2 May 2006 (EST)

Northern Florida is part of the Southeast, but South Florida is more attached to the Gulf of Mexico and thus forms it's own seperate region. Texas is not part of anything. Parts of Texas however are in the Midwest, other parts are in the Southwest. Parts are in the Western Plains. As a native Midwesterner I disagree strongly that the great lakes is distinct from the rest of the midwest. -- Mark 18:11, 2 May 2006 (EDT)
Several Florida residents have already commented that it's a very different place from the rest of the south, and the consensus seems to be that it's better to separate it. Texas and California are most definitely not southwest - I live in California, and the idea that San Francisco or even Los Angeles is part of the southwest just wouldn't be accurate. In terms of Great Lakes vs. Midwest, I lived in Ohio for 14 years and always considered it to be Midwest. The Great Lakes is definitely it's own region, but I think it's a sub-region of the Midwest, rather than a separate place. Just my two cents. -- Ryan 18:54, 2 May 2006 (EDT)
I'm not convinced, Pez.
  • Although the Florida panhandle is quite arguably Southern, El Miami or Tampa/St.Pete has about as much in common with Savannah or New Orleans as, say, Philadelphia does. Florida is defined by the Gulf, the Carribean, and the Atlantic, which really aren't as influential in the rest of the South.
  • I could maybe see Texas as part of the Southwest, since much of it is similarly arid and Mexican-influenced, but California has so many other elements stirred into the mix (the beach communities, the entertainment industry, the People's Republic of Berkeley, etc.) that I'd have a very difficult time lumping it in with el paiz de las mesas.
  • I don't see a clear distinction between the Great Lakes and the Midwest. Michigan is obviously part of the former, but I live here and I consider myself a Midwesterner. Which would Michigan be? Granted, Des Moines isn't exactly Cleveland, and St. Paul isn't St. Louis, but I think this region holds together as well as any.

- Todd VerBeek 19:04, 2 May 2006 (EDT)

This comment referes to Regional Times as related to UTC/GMT: This article currently indicates that USA time is from -5 UTC to -10 UTC; however, during 'daylight savings time' periods (which the US Government plans to extend in late 2006) Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) is only -4 UTC/GMT .. I mention this because daylight savings time is in effect about 50% of the year in the USA, and during the most popular travel seasons. -- MatthewStevenCarlos 13:00 EDT (GMT-04:00) 09 May 2006.

West Virginia

I realize that proposals to move subregions around the hierarchy tend not to get much support, but one in particular has bugged me for some time. I think that West Virginia should be moved from the South to the Mid-Atlantic. I would argue that it is a common misconception by East Coasters (based on ignorance) that West Virginia's culture is somehow "southern," when in fact the Mountaineer culture is much closer to what you would find in Western Maryland, Pennsylvania, or even the Adirondacks. Moreover, I think its mining economy puts it pretty solidly in a category with the regions to the north. Finally, the only reason why the state even exists is that it split from Virginia in order to remain in the North.

I don't see any good reasons to keep West Virginia grouped with the south, but perhaps someone could point one out to me. There is, however, another good reason to move it—the South has a lot of subregions—2 more than we usually allow—while the Mid-Atlantic has only 5. Finally, speaking as a native "Mid-Atlanticist," the defining aspect of the Mid-Atlantic is that it is in between regions with more distinctive cultures and winds up falling somewhere between its regional neighbors. And West Virginia is a classic example of an in-betweener state. --23:27, 27 June 2007 (EDT)

As far as I'm aware West Virginia isn't commonly considered a Mid-Atlantic state - it doesn't border the Atlantic - and there have been a lot of arguments made as to why it is a southern state. Personally I always think of it as a Midwestern state, but that comes from years of living in Ohio. In any case, in the lack of a strongly compelling reason why from a travelers perspective West Virginia should not be grouped in the South I'd prefer leaving it as-is. -- Ryan • (talk) • 12:06, 29 June 2007 (EDT)
Just to add a bit more, here's Wikipedia's take on the subject:
The Census Bureau considers West Virginia part of the South because much of the state is below the Mason-Dixon Line, despite its northern panhandle extending into Pennsylvania and Ohio as far north on parallel to Staten Island, New York. Many citizens of West Virginia claim they are part of Appalachia, rather than the Mid-Atlantic or the South, while the state's Northern Panhandle, and North-Central region feel an affinity for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Also, those in the Eastern Panhandle feel a connection with the Washington, D.C. suburbs in Maryland and Virginia, and southern West Virginians often consider themselves Southerners. Finally, the towns and farms along the mid-Ohio River have an appearance and culture somewhat resembling the Midwest.
-- Ryan • (talk) • 12:47, 29 June 2007 (EDT)

Learn

Removed a slightly condescending sentence in the "Learn" section that said that the reason why US colleges and universities were good was only because "top-caliber international students" go there for grad school. Honestly, as a college student, I see plenty of top-caliber US students as well as top-caliber international students. Not to mention I saw no proof of this claim; it lacked any additional info beyond an unverified statement. So I snipped it and kept the helpful part of the paragraph. -Sarah 10:22 EDT (GMT-04:00) 19 May 2006.

Seattle & Boeing

An earlier editor indicated that Boeing has moved its headquarters from Seattle to Chicago, so I reverted this edit (and screwed that up - sorry for no edit comment). Boeing is still a big employer in the area, but for a simple city summary it doesn't seem like this is a big enough issue to start an edit war over - if anyone feels strongly enough about it then lets just re-write the summary in a way that mentions something about Seattle other than local companies. -- Ryan 18:51, 21 May 2006 (EDT)

How about instead referring to its "trend-setting cultural scene" (i.e. Starblechs, grunge rock, Bumbershoot, Frasier) and "the presence of international hi-tech giants" (i.e. Micro$oft, 9-10-do, Boeing-Boeing, Amazon). - Todd VerBeek 20:39, 21 May 2006 (EDT)
Looks good and should hopefully avoid the series of reverts we've seen lately. Thanks. -- Ryan 11:26, 27 May 2006 (EDT)

Quickbar pic

While I have nothing against the fine town of Oxford (Mississippi), I think we need to find a more "identifiably American" picture to start off the article with. The Statue of Liberty is nice and iconic, but it's portrait while the quickbar needs a landscape. Suggestions welcome, otherwise I'll go find Mickey Mouse posing in front of a burger stand somewhere here in LA... Jpatokal 23:13, 17 June 2006 (EDT)

LA, huh? I originally put in a NYC skyline image, however, TVerBeek changed it, because the USA article would have had two NYC images. I too would like to find something a little more "idenfidiable American," but what could that be? Go back to NYC? Maybe Chicago, Boston, LA, Seattle, The Midwest, or DC? I'd support a DC image, but there's only one image of DC and that's an image I took from the NPS. I do have a disposable camera of DC photos, but I've forgotten what I did with it so I can't get it developed. - Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 23:35, 17 June 2006 (EDT)
I like this one → [5] Not sure we want to have a Budweiser logo right up there though... and by "identifiably American", I'd actually prefer something symbolic that showcases something only-in-America (Las Vegas, Disneyland etc), not some crusty old building like the White House. Jpatokal 01:44, 18 June 2006 (EDT)
I'm not really a fan of that image. Also, there are theories that photographing logos and publishing them are copyright violations - See the Eiffel Tower article. - Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 01:53, 18 June 2006 (EDT)
How about an image of a city that has received the All-America_City_Award? - Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 01:55, 18 June 2006 (EDT)

I do like this Chicago image by Mark. - Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 02:45, 24 June 2006 (EDT)

In the interest of having an iconic image in the quickbar I switched it to a shot of Mount Rushmore - the picture isn't quite perfect landscape proportions, so feel free to find something better, but the quickbar shots should be something that symbolizes the country (IMHO), and the picture of downtown Oxford wasn't doing it for me. -- Ryan 22:48, 11 July 2006 (EDT)

Although I liked the the "Main Street" feel of the Oxford MS photo, and the ability for even a non-local American such as me to identify with it (which is why I picked it), Mt. Rushmore is OK with me. I'm just really tired of the common perception (at least where I've traveled overseas) that the US=NYC+LA+FL+DC, so I'd rather have an image from Anywhere Else in the country. On the other hand, if you want a photo from an All-America City, I'll go outside and take one; we're a 3-time winner. - Todd VerBeek 23:13, 11 July 2006 (EDT)

Revert of the day

I reverted a bunch of stuff I thought was unhelpful. One was highly mispelled, the other seemed awfully politically correct -- for example, removing the part about religion in America.

Here's what was contributed and why I removed it

  • Anon removed part about US being one of the most religious of industrialized countries. Since it's true and may or may not be expected by the visitor, I view this as useful.
  • Anon removed "powerful" from the list "largest, richest, and most powerful." I could go for removing all three since it's boring, but why just one? I got that one exactly backwards.
  • There seemed to be some attempt to carve the Midwest out of the Great Plains and call it more liberal. My one word response would be "Indiana." More importantly, we want general descriptions rather than describing each little subsection.
  • Anon removed part about French in Louisiana. I thought this was true, but I'm willing to stand corrected.
  • Anon said politics was a taboo topic at the end of a paragraph that guides the visitor in how to carefully conduct a conversation about politics. Besides being an unneeded warning at that point, taboo is way too strong a word.
  • Anon removed part about fast-food being contraversial. I kinda agree with this one, but since it amplifies the advice to avoid fast-food when possible, I'd druther leave it in.

I don't care what the picture is though. -- Colin 21:56, 21 June 2006 (EDT)

I reverted an edit grouping the Midwest in the "Blue states." Most of the Midwest actually leans toward the GOP party. Given a few Midwest states are constantly "blue" like Illinois. Ohio is essentially the only state that can go either way in Presidential elections, however, on a state level - governors, senators, US Reps most of the Midwest is "red." - Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 00:44, 22 June 2006 (EDT)

If you look up information on governorships, elected officials, and recent election results, the Midwest tends to vote Democratic. Like, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio going both ways. So the majority of them are blue.

As Ohio has a republican governor and two R senators, I'm going to suggest you do some research this first, then get back to us. Yes, some of the states swing left, and some right. If I were guessing, I'd wager that averaged out they are about center in the US. I would note that Indiana is screamingly Republican, and I can't think of any similar lunacy on the Demo side in the Midwest. Frankly, I think the whole red-blue thing is overblown: the country is more evenly distributed than most people realize: WikiPedia:Image:2004 US elections purple counties.png

2004 Presidential

More importantly... stop changing the part about the US being more religious than most industrialized countries. It's true. Probably most visitors are aware of it already, but it's good to confirm it so that travellers know that it's not just a stereotype. -- Colin 19:31, 23 June 2006 (EDT)
  • I can assure you Ohio, my homestate is not a democratic leaning state, except in the north near Cleveland. I have reworded the sentence that you keep changing to reflect how the Midwest actually leans in relation to the two parties. - Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 00:59, 24 June 2006 (EDT)
Guys, knock it off please. This has little or nothing to do with travel.
Besides, really taken as a whole the country is purple. The link points to a cool county-by-county map. Note the bright blue stripe across the deep south, and the blue patches in Colorado, Texas, the Dakotas, and even Idaho! For that matter NYC has a republican mayor for crying out loud. The blue-state red-state is simply a convenient myth.
That said when Europeans ask where I'm from I always say Illinois as opposed to the US, so maybe I've been drinking the same kool-aid. Har. -- Mark 02:02, 24 June 2006 (EDT)
Very true, curious as to how I lost my head. - Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 02:07, 24 June 2006 (EDT)

Midwest:

-Ohio: 2 R Senators, very tight election for senate 2006, expected D Gov. 2006, very tight presidential race, 2.6 million house R votes in 04 and 2.2 mill house D votes plus 2 uncontested seats so those could very well be even and or more D votes

-Michigan: 2 D senators, D gov, D in 04 for pres, 2.2 mill D house, 2.2 mill R house,

-Wisconsin: 2 D senators, D gov, D in 04 for pres, 1.3 mill R house, 1.3 D house

-Minnesota:1 D senate, 1 R senate (tight election and original D candidate died days before election), R gov tight reelection 2006, D in 04 for pres, 1.4 mill D house, 1 mill R house

-Iowa: 1 D senate, 1 R senate, D gov, expected D gov for 2006 election, bush 04 but gore in 00 (both tight), .8 mill R house, .6 mill D house

-Illinois: 2 D senators, D gov, D for pres in 04, 2.6 mill D house, 2.2 mill R house,

-Indiana: 1 D senate, 1 R senate, 1 R gov (tight race) formerly D gov, R in 04 for pres, 1 mill D house, 1.3 mill R house

House D:11.3 mill + 2 uncontested seats so it could be almost 12 mill

House R: 11.4 mill

Majority House votes: D

Senate D: 8

Senate R: 5

Majority Senate: D

Net dem 04 pres states: +1

Majority for pres in 04: D

Governor D: 4

Governor R: 3

Majority Gov: D

'Midwest: Majority D'

We include Missouri in the Midwest. But I think you have demonstrated the point that it's about even. If you want to work on expressing the relative evenness of the political situation instead of the blue/red oversimplifications, that would be fine. -- Colin 22:33, 25 June 2006 (EDT)
I wish we could count on the polls you provided, however, I'm deeply sceptical of election polls, because I sat watching TV all night in a Munich hostel for the results of the U.S. Presidential Election and deeply believed that if Kerry had won Ohio and Flordia (Like a USA Today poll predicted) he was going to win. A small issue with the Ohio U.S. Senate race I have to raise is that no one in the Southern part of Ohio has ever heard of Sherrod Brown! (I'm mean that figuratively) Despite what the current polls (Remember polls before May 25, 2006 were often in favor of DeWine) say I have a hard time believing DeWine is going to lose the US Senate race. If, Paul Hackett hadn't been forced out by the DNC (The DNC has lost it's favor with moderate Republicans and Democrats in Ohio's 2nd because of it's handling Hackett's campaign) DeWine would have lost in November. If Hackett ran against Jean Schmidt in Ohio's second (Where I live) she would've lost this November, but he promised other Republican & Democratic politicans he wouldn't run in the '06 election. Can you rewrite the entire political entry, because let's face it America is just one big purple blob. Ohio can't really be called Republican or Democratic because, as the national media has branded Ohio, is the "swing state," though in the recent past the GOP has been given the jobs to lead the state. - Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 23:42, 25 June 2006 (EDT)
Given that the traveller comes first I've trimmed the political stuff a bunch. A visitor from outside of the US really isn't affected by the voting patterns of Midwesterners in the past few years, and removing all mention of red vs. blue doesn't (IMHO) make the article any less useful. Revert if needed, but if the content is re-added it would good if it was done so in some way that allows us to eventually find a resolution to the "is the Midwest red or blue" debate. -- Ryan 00:06, 26 June 2006 (EDT)
I ran into an edit conflict with Ryan. I attempted a rewrite and here it is. Please feel free to comment and proofread (Especially grammar and where I put commas) and if this seems like a good compromise insert it.
Politically, the country has recently been divided almost equally between its two major parties - The Republican party and Democratic party. Often pundits attempt to categorize a state as either a "red state" or "blue state," depending on if a state tends to vote for Republicans or Democrats respectively. Southern, and Southwestern states tend to vote for the Republican party, while New England, Pacific Northwestern states and California tend to vote for the Democratic party. The Midwest is famous for voting either way, especially Ohio, which is one the only states that presidential candidates will make multiple campaign trips to. Americans sometimes joke that in reality the country is "purple," meaning that out of the two major political parties either could win any state. In a similar way, urban areas tend toward the left while rural areas tend toward the right. Politics in America are very fluid and geographic allegiances have varied substantially over the decades. Americans are also highly mobile, and many people in one area may have grown up in another, bringing their political preferences with them. In the last presidential election, only three states gave more than two-thirds of their vote to a particular candidate, so most "red" states have plenty of "blue" voters, and vice versa! Americans also have a tendency toward centrism; far-right or far-left political movements that might take hold in other places tend to do poorly in America. - Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 00:10, 26 June 2006 (EDT)
Hi guys, just to give you a point of comparison if I could explain which departements are likely to go for Ségoline Royale, and which are likely to go to Nicolas Sarkozy in the next French presidential election would you find the information very useful for yourselves as travellers? How about if I work up some text about the ascendancy of the (center-left) Green party in Switzerland and its cost to both the Socialists and the center-right Christian Democrats, and Radicals. For that matter I could spend days writing about the right-wing UDC.
Would you be interested in which Swiss cantons had voted which way in the most recent elections (there are 4 per year)?
Or perhaps we should talk Danish politics instead? -- Mark 01:00, 26 June 2006 (EDT)
I'll settle for Ukrainian politics and the Orange Revolution. :) - Sapphire
I disagree with your point here Mark. I think there are many people around the world who are in opposition to current American policy, but may have been led to beleive that only certain regions of the US are responsible for it. Maybe they are thinking "hey, I'll go to Oregon and avoid those Texan gun nuts." If they go to rural Oregon, they'll quickly find themselves effectively in Texas. So to the extent that it helps the visitor select places to visit where they are more comfortable, I think the text is helpful. If US policy was less important to the world, then these explainations would be less important too. I think Ryan's text improves the focus on what matters to the traveller, and is therefore helpful. -- Colin 02:17, 26 June 2006 (EDT)
Good point. I totally agree with you here, which is why I posted the link to the purple map. I think my complaint was aimed more at the arguments being made against you and ryan. Sorry if that was unclear.
Besides, there are some other things which might surprise people about Oregon, like the huge desert, etc... -- Mark 06:52, 26 June 2006 (EDT)

Nine cities

Our anon contributor added Philly as a tenth city to the U.S. list of cities. Where exactly is the policy that says a region can only have nine cities displayed in the "Cities" section? Do we make an exception to the U.S. and if not, which city goes? - Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 16:08, 24 June 2006 (EDT)

I vaguely remember a very long discussion about how many cities to list for the US (the list was getting long) and settling on nine. I'm honestly not sure where that discussion was, but the fact that there is a comment in the article specifically saying "please discuss before adding more", AND that the first discussion on this talk page is about which cities to list, AND that this anonymous user is trying to bully through changes, makes the addition of Philly a good candidate for reversion. Note that I'm not against possibly adding Philly to the list, but that opens a whole can of worms about do we allow ten cities, eleven, do we take one away, which one gets dropped, etc. Settling on nine is kind of like the policy on having no external links - it's not perfect, but it solves a lot of potential headaches. -- Ryan 17:43, 24 June 2006 (EDT)
Wikitravel:Geographical hierarchy#Dividing geographical units. This same issue comes up all over the place: how many articles to list per section on the Main Page, how many cities to list in California, US, and England. If we increased the number, I'm convinced we would still have the exact same problem. -- Colin 02:06, 25 June 2006 (EDT)

Euphemism alert

I appreciate the attempt at cultural commentary, but the "Euphemism alert" infobox is both inaccurate and begging for an edit war over what to include.

  • Neither "toilet" nor "toilet paper" is offensive; it's just that they used to be considered uncouth, so euphemisms were invented. Today "bathroom" is simply the standard US-English word for the room where you shit, and "toilet" is the word for the thing that you sit on and shit into. If you say that someone is "in the toilet" you'll get chuckles, not because the word is rude, but because it conjures up an image of them with their ass soaking in the basin. There were TV adverts 30 years ago where they said "toilet paper" in a stage whisper, poking fun of that fact that none of their competitors used the term; I don't think anyone today would get the joke.
  • Referring to the remaining terms as "euphemisms" is itself likely to be construed as offensive, because that implies that there's something inappropriate or embarassing about someone being black, native, or male. Some information about "Politically Correct" terminology in the US and/or our difficulty dealing with the whole issue of "race" might be useful, but not in the context of an infobox about excretory euphemisms. It should also recognize that no one outside of the People's Republic of Berkeley is likely to be seriously offended by a foreigner saying "Indian" or "chairman". In fact, a person of light skin color may instead be snickered at for saying "African American" (in the hood you'll sound like a guilt-ridden liberal, and on the range you'll sound like... a guilt-ridden liberal).

- Todd VerBeek 09:06, 12 July 2006 (EDT)

Plunge forward! I was told off by my Jr. High teacher when I made the mistake of saying "TP" out in full, and this wasn't exactly 30 years ago. But you're right, these are separate issues and should probably split into one box (phrasebook?) for American-vs-Commonwealth and the race/PC thing. Jpatokal 09:55, 12 July 2006 (EDT)

Edits to Stay Safe section

I have made some enhancements to the Stay Safe section. These include deleting some wordy and verbose sentences that do not add usable information ("there's some merit to this stereotype, the America that is portrayed in Hollywood movies isn't what one finds in real life") as well as creating sub-headings to make the whole sections more readable. I also added a brief sub heading about laws against vice crimes in the US.

Keep in mind the purpose of the "Stay Safe" section is to provide USEFUL information about crime, hassles or law enforcement of specific relevance to travelers. If someone does not agree with my improvements then please DISCUSS IT HERE or even ADD YOUR OWN CHANGES do not simply revert to a version that has long, unnecessary sentences and unneded opinions about guns. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by SONORAMA (talkcontribs)

This whole article is becoming to long and unweildy

This article is getting out of hand and needs to be pared down to improve the amount of useful information available. Already the article is almost 3 times the recommend maximum file size.

In particular I feel the "History", "Learn" and "Buy" sections are irrelevant and better covered by other web sites specific to those interested in the history of or needing information about studying in the US. How does the group feel about deleting or massively paring down these sections? Let's increase the amount of usable info here and decrease the excess verbage and needless opinions. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by SONORAMA (talkcontribs)

I agree and disagree. I think there is far too much hemming-and-hawing language in this article, and that we are spending too much time trying to assuage feelings rather than taking the extra effort to be fair and tell it like it is. But, general overview information is crucial to making a good travel guide. That these issues are covered on other Web sites is irrelevant; a person reading a printed guide doesn't have access to those Web sites. So, rather than deleting sections in their entirety, I suggest trimming down the prose to be more compact and readable.
You might want to take a look at our goals and non-goals, and also using talk pages. --Evan 11:10, 14 July 2006 (EDT)
The "Learn" section had gotten especially unweildy and was full of generalized advise about full time university study in America. I significantly shortened it to one paragraph and changed the focus to the type of courses that travelers (as opposed to prospective full timestudents) are likely to seek. SONORAMA 09:21, 15 July 2006 (EDT)
I agree that the Learn section was getting a bit long-winded, but have you considered that "travelers" can include prospective full-time students? In fact, many young adults use study abroad as a way to travel to other countries (to say nothing of possibly getting a better education that way), and information about their options for doing so in the U.S. is definitely appropriate. - Todd VerBeek 09:35, 15 July 2006 (EDT)
Of course travelers include prospective full time students. And wikitravel is a great place for them to plan their trip. But advice about college studies per se is beyond the mission of Wikitravel and more useful information about choosing a college or getting a student visa is found elsewhere on the web. SONORAMA 09:41, 15 July 2006 (EDT)
Don't think "Web site", here. Think of what the "study abroad" section of the Lonely Planet or Rough Guides guide to the USA would have: an overview of the US education system for people considering using "study abroad" as a way to travel to the US. --Evan 09:56, 15 July 2006 (EDT)
Again: "This information can be found elsewhere on the web" is not a sufficient reason to remove it from Wikitravel. Although we certainly don't aim to be a student's only source of information about enrolling in a U.S. college, I think it is within our mission to be their first source of information. From reading your part-time-non-credit-only version, they may not even realize that full-time enrollment is even an option for foreign students. Some basic orientation about how the U.S. educational system is set up (which is very different from that in many other countries), and pointers to get foreign students started, are as appropriate as information about our transportation system or our travel-visa policy. - Todd VerBeek 09:59, 15 July 2006 (EDT)
I have no objection if someone wants to add some additional, useful information to the Learn section. But please, let's not make it anywhere near as long and wordy as the previous version, which had everything from Harvard's endowment, to application fees, to a comparison of US elementary schools with other countries. SONORAMA 10:09, 15 July 2006 (EDT)
Thanks for your "permission"; now that I know you won't revert it, I'll go ahead and restore some of the info you deleted. - Todd VerBeek 10:20, 15 July 2006 (EDT)
I'll have to hand it to you. You did a good job with your revision -- kept it brief and relevant. I'm especially glad you opted to write original text rather than just a revert. There are several other sections that hopefully can be enhanced by an renewed application of brevity and style. SONORAMA 12:07, 15 July 2006 (EDT)

Sales tax info

As I pointed out in my edit summary, we don't need to list which states have 0% sales tax rates in this article. The fact that Montana has no sales tax is not relevant to someone visiting the Gulf coast of the United States; it is relevant only to someone visiting Montana. That information can and should be put in the article for each state. - Todd VerBeek 10:11, 15 July 2006 (EDT)

Why should someone looking for a no sales tax state have to look through 50 state articles to get that information? Many state articles don't even list sales tax. Also, I'll point out, my version is about 30% shorter while at the same time more specific that the previous version. If we're going to talk about sales taxes at all, let's be specific and useful rather than verbose and general. SONORAMA 10:18, 15 July 2006 (EDT)
This is an article about the whole United States of America; being general is a virtue. But your version was certainly shorter: at the expense of correctness. It implied that there was no sales tax on restaurant meals and failed to explain that posted gas prices do include sales tax. If sales tax rates are missing from state articles, then add it to them, because that specific information belongs on those specific pages. Now, I realize that (e.g.) Philadelphians will drive to Delaware to avoid sales tax when they buy a new fridge, but is this the sort of information that foreign visitors to the United States are likely to use to pick which state to visit? Or is it something they will want to know after they decide to look at California as a travel destination... and are therefore looking at California? - Todd VerBeek 11:42, 15 July 2006 (EDT)
Sales tax indeed is seldom a deciding factor when tourists consider where to go. But since a paragraph about it is included in the United States section, I opted to put specific and useful information rather than vagaries. Incidentially, your generalized verbage is inaccurate: many states do charge sales tax on gasoline. Sales tax regulations for each state are sometimes more than ten pages long. Should the article have ten pages of legalese about tax policy? Of course not. Let's cut to the chase and describe what it is, how it is charged, and where its not charged. Frankly, this issue is almost too insiginicant to argue over, but is an example of how the article has gone from being a useful text to a endless list of generalities. In any case, short and specific wins out over long and irrelevant. I will revert back to my text. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by SONORAMA (talkcontribs) 12:00, 15 July 2006
Yes, states do charge sales tax on gas, but that tax is included in the posted price. That is useful for any car-renting visitor to know, which is why I am trying to add it back to the article. Yes, that makes it trivially longer, but I think the usefulness of this information is worth it. Likewise, since visitors do most of their eating in restaurants, it is very useful for them to know that these business do collect sales tax in addition to the prices on the menu. I'm relieved that you've finally allowed me to replace your incorrect generalization about "food" being exempt, with the more precise "groceries", but why can't we "cut to the chase" and actually say that restaurant food is taxed? Look, I'm not suggesting that we list the various states' tax codes. I'm trying to point out just the most travel-relevant aspects that apply nation-wide, without distracting the traveler with useless detail. And a list of tax-free states is - by your own admission - not particularly useful to them, so I see no reason to keep reverting back to it. - Todd VerBeek 14:37, 15 July 2006 (EDT)
First, I really like the way the two of you are condensing the information in this article - the US article had started turning into a sort of PC nightmare, with every obvious opinion and counter-opinion about everything being expressed, and far too much detail on many subjects. In the case of the sales tax section, a single, short sentence that includes what states don't charge sales tax seems OK to me - as a resident of the US reading the article I was unaware that any state other than New Hampshire didn't charge sales tax, and could conceivably see making a side-trip to one of those states in the future if I was planning a trip to a nearby state and needing to buy something expensive. As long as we don't get bogged down (again) with details like "states X, Y, and Z have no sales tax on products A, B and C" then I think we're OK. -- Ryan 15:34, 15 July 2006 (EDT)
As long as the useful information gets left intact (I've put it back, rephrased), I don't much care about the useless part. It was the utter illogic of insisting that it remain - while arguing that certain useful info that had been removed from this article could be found elsewhere - and (re)introducing errors into the text in the reversion process, that I found objectionable. - Todd VerBeek 16:00, 15 July 2006 (EDT)
For those purchasing a car to drive across America, knowledge of which states are tax free is hardly useless. But never mind. Now that the information we both wanted there, is there, I propose we leave the section as it is. I agree with Ryan, the article was getting too unweildy. Perhaps there are other sections that can be pared down. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by SONORAMA (talkcontribs) 18:56, 15 July 2006 (EDT)
I think travelers would prefer only a short commentary on Sales Tax in the main country article, if there are variations across the country. More detailed information could appear in each state article, especially if travelers and residents are taxed differently. At the country level, simple information like the range of tax rates, country wide exemptions, whether it is included in or added to the posted price and how prices should be treated if no mention is made about tax. As I come from a country that has a 12.5% tax on all goods and services, I am familiar with the concept, but not necessarily the customs and culture around sales tax. In my country, failing to mention there is tax means one assumes tax is included in the price. And not giving the tax included price, in a retail environment, is considered misleading - and open the way for a legal dispute! As a traveler, the main thing I would want to know is if the posted price is the price I pay, or not, and what my chances are if I should argue the difference. -- Huttite 21:52, 29 July 2006 (EDT)

5+-2

Hey all. We seem to have a reacurring problem here with folks adding more cities to the cities section. I think that's pretty much inevitable considering the size of the US of A. Perhaps we should re-think this problem? Maybe it would be better to have a number of "cities" sections with 5+-2 entries each.. like this maybe:

Major Cities (by size)

  • New York
  • Los Angeles
  • Chicago
  • Atlanta
  • Huston

Major Cities (as destinations)

  • San Francisco (since NYC is in the list above)
  • New Orleans
  • Las Vegas
  • Miami
  • Boston

Historical Cities

  • Philidelphia
  • Baton Rouge
  • Nashville
  • ...
  • ...

Regional Capitols (if not officially)

  • St Louis
  • Kansas City
  • Cleveland
  • Denver
  • Memphis

Smaller Cities well worth Visiting

  • Austin
  • Madison
  • Santa Fe
  • Morgantown
  • Ischia
  • Charleston

Aging industrial cities that really aren't that bad

  • Detroit
  • Toledo
  • Cleveland
  • Pittsburg
  • Acron
  • Milwaukee

Comments

So, what do people thing about this? My main thesis is that it makes more sense to divide the USA up by ideology and purpose than by geography. -- Mark 18:07, 24 July 2006 (EDT)

The main value of the no-more-than-nine rule is that it keeps high-level articles from being bogged down by long indexes of cities. All this would do is partition that oversized list into themed sections. And instead of solving the problem, we'd instead have several lists to police, and people would be tempted to add more lists (e.g. "Beach destinations", "Aging industrial cities that really aren't that bad", "Cities with casino gambling"). - Todd VerBeek 18:34, 24 July 2006 (EDT)
I agree here: the point is to aid the traveller, not the editors, and so far this seems to aid the editors more than the traveller. I feel like there's something to it, perhaps as a separate article of some kind ("US by flavor" or something, I'm bad at naming articles). But having it heading the article seems like too much: too many travellers are reading for something else and aren't interested in a breakdown of cities. Hypatia 19:36, 24 July 2006 (EDT)
I think a separate article could be made with suggested destinations for different views of travel in the US -- see Japan's Top 3. But it doesn't belong in the US article. -- Colin 17:31, 25 July 2006 (EDT)
side notes to say:sorry about the rollback there, I forgot what tab I was in... think I fixed it... Maj 17:41, 25 July 2006 (EDT)

Inaccuracy in "Learn"?

I'm no US expert, but:

Although all colleges are open to students regardless of race, gender, religion, etc. some were originally established for a particular group (e.g. African-Americans, women, members of a particular religion) and may still attract primarily students from that group.

Aren't there still some women only colleges? Not just majority women, but colleges that actually don't admit men (this is very foreign to an Aussie...). [6] suggests that there are a few. Hypatia 19:31, 24 July 2006 (EDT)

You are correct; I've fixed the text. - Todd VerBeek 19:59, 24 July 2006 (EDT)
I corrected some information about the numbers of colleges in the US. The NY state system, SUNY, has more than 50 campuses, not 20 as the article read. And the four all-male colleges (Hampden-Sydney, Wabash, Morehouse, and Deep Springs) are not just remaining but thriving: enrollments are up and they have recommitted to remaining single sex. SONORAMA 10:52, 25 July 2006 (EDT)
The article didn't say that SUNY had 50 campuses; it just used "20" as a general example of how many a state might have. The exact number of all-male colleges is not important, and is subject to change. It is better to make general statements that will remain true over time rather than obsessing over exact numbers. - Todd VerBeek 12:11, 25 July 2006 (EDT)

Silly Warningbox

I'm sure the person who added the warningbox against "simply" joking that there were bombs in their bags meant well. But screwing with customs is a pretty sure-fire way of getting bounced out of any sane country at the border. I've heard of Canada doing this to US citizens, and there are few countries more welcoming than Canada. So perhaps we need some general article about border crossings and what to do and not to do (e.g. I always shave and take off my sunglasses before I cross the Canadian border because having customs search my whole truck is something I don't want to waste time on again -- it's just boring man), but this isn't specific to the US. -- Colin 21:06, 29 July 2006 (EDT)

I agree that the warning box was too much, but I'm gonna add back a note about not joking about that stuff - I agree that messing with customs officials is just a really bad idea, but it can't hurt to have a brief mention of the fact that joking about a bomb in your bag is a sure way to be delayed for an hour or so. -- Ryan 21:23, 29 July 2006 (EDT)
I am the writer of the warning box, and in retrospect I suppose such a prominent warning was not neccesary, however some form of warning to Europeans is required, because, despite the claims of many americans to the contrary, US procedure differs massively from the EU surely someone must agree. -- DAN 21:17 GMT, 29 July 2006
There is a warning that has been added under the "Get in" section that reads as follows:
As in most countries, it is also important to note that customs officials are required by law to treat any comments about bombs, terrorism, or other security issues extremely seriously; unless you are looking for an excuse to spend an hour or so being interrogated do not make even the most flippant remark about any of these subjects within earshot of any customs or other security official.
Do we need something more than that? I do agree that it's a bit retarded that an 80 year-old grandma can joke about having dynamite in her purse and then be interrogated for an hour, but I don't think it's that unique - I recall going to Canada on a 7th grade school field trip and being told that the previous year the bus had been pulled over and searched for an hour because a twelve year old kid made a joke about something or other. Similarly, I've gotten the impression in Malaysia, Chile, Cambodia and other places that the border control folks were absolutely humor-less. If you feel that the warning above is too little maybe you can expand it slightly? I'd just rather not see us go overboard with what is common-sense to most people traveling to foreign countries. -- Ryan 16:42, 30 July 2006 (EDT)
I'm not familiar with the specific incident that you seem to be so upset about, but on the whole, I believe that security personnel on both sides of the Atlantic (and elsewhere) take jokes about bombs very seriously indeed. In fact, it was in Europe (the UK in particular) where I first learned from a stern lecture many years ago that bomb jokes simply were not funny, never to leave a bag unattended, etc... things that Americans were (in those days) naively ignorant about. All that's changed is that the US is treating these things like Europe has for decades, and Americans are starting to learn what Europeans have known all along: don't joke about bombs. The advice in your warningbox was simple common sense that applies to riding the Tube, for heaven's sake; it is not specific to the flying into United States. - Todd VerBeek 18:59, 30 July 2006 (EDT)
Agreed: it's generally good advice that one shouldn't make jokes about bombs or other security threats to officials at border crossings or to airline staff. It's in Tips for flying. As for general air security 'heaviness', I found the US, the UK and Australia equally strict and serious, and continental Europe somewhat less so, but not so much that I would think it was acceptable to make jokes about bombs there! So it doesn't seem to be a US thing. Hypatia 07:24, 31 July 2006 (EDT)

In the news [7]. -- Colin 14:26, 3 August 2006 (EDT)

Budget, Mid-range, Splurge

As an American I've never really thought how the three categories are categorized so I'd like to create a rough consensus on what is Budget, Mid-range, and Splurge in the good ole U.S. or A.

Sleep

  • Budget: Anything under $50 a night.
  • Mid-range: Anything between $51 - $130
  • Splurge (Apparently my bank account's new favorite): $131+

Eat (Per person)

  • Budget:Anything under $15
  • Mid-range: $16 - 34
  • Splurge: $35 +

Thoughts? -- Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 05:54, 13 August 2006 (EDT)

I'd hike down Budget to $50 (youth hostels, camping are well below) and $10. You also need to note regional variations: $100/night is cheap in NYC but pretty darn expensive in Minot. Jpatokal 06:56, 13 August 2006 (EDT)
To be honest, I think it's a disservice to travelers to try for a one-size-fits-all definition of these categories for the US. Let the descendant nodes have definitions that are regionally/locally useful instead. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 17:21, 13 August 2006 (EDT)
I'd tend to agree with Bill that's there is too much variance across the country - a room in northern New Mexico can be had for $20 a night, while in downtown San Francisco $100 is a steal. I think Jani was trying to address this problem with Template:Eatpricerange, although I'm not sure where the discussion stands on that issue. -- Ryan 17:49, 13 August 2006 (EDT)
Ryan, if you know of a place in northern New Mexico where you can get a room (without bedbugs or bloodstains) for $20, I'd like to buy it. :-) But yes, this is exactly the point. Jani's template, or equivalent verbiage (I'd prefer verbiage, actually), is the city-by-city solution. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 18:29, 13 August 2006 (EDT)
I wasn't intending on this becoming policy or even defacto policy. I just realized that I may have a warped sense budget, mid-range, and splurge compared to someone in Texas. I just want a rough idea/consenus on what these price ranges are so if I'm editing an article on Florida I can place listings in a somewhat appropriate category. If I'm going into a large city my expectations change drastically or if I'm travelling around Western and Eastern Europe my expectations change too so I'm in no way wanting this to become supreme law. -- Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 17:54, 13 August 2006 (EDT)
Understood, so let me suggest a different approach: at least for US lodging, let the amenities describe the three ranges. That part, at least, can probably be applied with some consistency across the whole country. A "Splurge" hotel in Frozen Gopher, Minnesota should be expected to offer about the same level of services as one in NYC, right? (At least exclusive of the "services" beyond the hotel itself.) Some descriptive text for each of the three classes of service can probably be developed without too much controversy. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 18:29, 13 August 2006 (EDT)
I hereby declare you a genius. It's amazing how we occasionally overlook the obvious solution. -- Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 18:39, 13 August 2006 (EDT)


"Capitalist government"

As regards my rollback of a few minutes ago: In my opinion it is entirely fair to indicate that the economic system of the United States is "capitalist;" that is actually useful information for the traveler coming from a place with a centrally planned economy, who may find some things different than at home in unexpected ways. There may be a place in the article itself to introduce that statement, if it isn't in there already. However, it is simply erroneous to state that the form of government is capitalist. The method of representation, choosing representatives, etc., is independent of the economic philosophy/ideology of the people being elected, or the people voting. The infobox should be factual, and the facts should be correct. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 10:28, 25 August 2006 (EDT)

and far be it from me to argue with an american's blind patriotism! ridiculous! I will now, under your implied advice, remove the word "communist" from the government type in China and North Korea articles-- Dan
As they say on Wikipedia, don't be disruptive to make a point. -- Colin 11:34, 25 August 2006 (EDT)
And why would a "patriotic" American object to his country being described as Capitalist? Not everyone accepts "Capitalist" as a term of insult you know... — Ravikiran 13:35, 25 August 2006 (EDT)
There's nothing patriotic about it. Capitolism is an economic system, not a political system regardless of how messed up it is. I can point this out without liking the system one little bit. The cooresponding policy is refered to as laissez-faire, which is French for "let do". The idea being that the political system stays out of the way of the economic system.
Of course many of us find this inadequate, and believe that some degree of regulation or control is required to prevent abuse. This is why some of the other "isms" are in fact political systems rather than economic ones. For instance socialism, which is about policy protecting people from the excesses of an otherwise capitalistic economy. Note that the word political derives from the word "policy".
But you see, Dan, that doesn't change anything about capitolism being an economic system. It's not political until you try to do something about it. -- Mark 15:19, 25 August 2006 (EDT)
Just to be clear with ya'll, I don't think Dan much cares about this issue. He's really complaining about Talk:China#Chinese Government Type, Talk:North Korea#Government Type, and Talk:Cuba#Communist State?. Rather than continue here, if anyone has an opinion about those other subjects it'd be better left on one or more of those discussion pages. -- Colin 16:53, 25 August 2006 (EDT)

Acceptable form of ID for alcohol

An anonymous user has added a statement that California law does not recognize foreign passports or drivers licenses as acceptable IDs for the purpose of buying alcohol and that shops are bound to refuse them. I have purchased alcohol with my passport or license a number of times in California, and service was never refused (though people gave me curious looks, or had trouble finding the birth date on the license). I have trouble believing all these people put themselves into risky illegality. Submarine 19:59, 25 August 2006 (EDT)

That was me. I looked it up -- consider yourself lucky you got served :-) Most likely the server was ignorant of the law. The basic problem is that most of our beloved citizens can't find Canada on an unlabeled map of North America, so they really aren't competent to distinguish between a Finnish passport and a Baffin Island passport. Asking them to follow instructions like "Maine Driver's License okay, Newfoundland not okay" is also overtaxing on their brains since they're both states, right? -- Colin 20:13, 25 August 2006 (EDT)
Do you have a legal source for this? Submarine 20:32, 25 August 2006 (EDT)
If you Google it, you find that the State of California's website says the IDs must be a "governmental id". I had to go to a bartender's site to find the actual interpretation. But it kinda makes sense that the State would only accept an ID from a governmental unit that is legally "bound" to the same system of law. -- Colin 00:42, 29 August 2006 (EDT)
I have bought alcohol in California. They insisted on a government id, did not accept my driver's license (I suspect it was because she had never seen a handwritten id issued by a government), but she did accept my passport. — Ravikiran 14:43, 29 August 2006 (EDT)
I've used my Swiss Carte de Légitimation dozens of times, at lots of places. Nobody ever questions it since it has my DOB printed right below the photo, even though the label is in French. That said I'm pushing 40, so maybe it's pretty clear that I'm of age. -- Mark 15:39, 29 August 2006 (EDT)
It's been well over a decade since I've been carded. I think we should add something to the effect that most servers won't know that the passport is insufficient, so you'll likely get away with it. I'd just hate to see a traveller make a fuss when refused alchohol. -- Colin 15:45, 29 August 2006 (EDT)
I hosted a German student, whi was over 18, but since German passports are written day/month/year in the numerical form it appeared that he was born September 02, 1985 instead of February 09, 1985. Anyhow, since the clerk didn't know that they wouldn't sell him cigarettes. So using a passport can be a bit of trouble, unless I'm confusing his passport with his Government ID. -- Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 15:50, 29 August 2006 (EDT)

Parenthesis for state name

Probably too late to discuss this now, but why on earth do US municipalities follow the standard of City (State)? I've seen this used frequently for subnational divisions in Europe, e.g. provinces of Spain and maybe departments of France, but never in the US. As in Wikipedia the accurate US standard is City, State. Unfortunately I have no time to write a bot to correct these. Cheers, PhilipR 14:14, 3 September 2006 (EDT)

It's a MediaWiki work around if you click on the Kent (Ohio) article. At the top of the page it says : "North America: United States of America: Midwest: Ohio: Northeast Ohio: Portage County: Kent." The parens hide the additional information contained within the parens. For example in the above breadcrumb if the title of the article was "Kent, Ohio" like it would be in Wikipedia the breadcrumb would look like this: "North America: United States of America: Midwest: Ohio: Northeast Ohio: Portage County: Kent, Ohio", which would kind of look weird since it's already mentioned that the city is in Ohio. -- Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 14:32, 3 September 2006 (EDT)
In any event, it's moot since there is normally no need for the state name to appear in the article unless there's a need for a disambiguator -- not uncommon, since many place names in the USA are duplicated in several states, but still more the exception than the rule. When in doubt, leave the state name out entirely when making a new article on a US city/town, and take care of the disambiguation if it arises. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 14:57, 3 September 2006 (EDT)
It sounds like the workaround wasn't implemented for US-standard names then, hence is an insufficiently internationalized workaround. Not a major deal, but a little unfortunate. - PhilipR 00:12, 4 September 2006 (EDT)

Shooting Guns

According to U.S. v. Day, 476 F.2d 562 (6th Cir. 1973). Citing Miller, the court merely concluded, in reviewing a challenge to the statute barring dishonorably discharged persons from possessing firearms, that "there is no absolute right of an individual to possess a firearm." Emphasis added. Since there are certain narrowly defined classes of untrustworthy persons, such as convicted felons and, as here, persons dishonorably discharged from the armed forces, who may be barred the possession of firearms, it is a truism to say that there is not an absolute right to possess firearms. In so saying, the court implicitly recognized the individual right of peaceful and honest citizens to possess firearm. So while yes, US citizens may have that right, it is not the right of foreign nationals to come over here and fire guns at a gun club or whatever.

Major Cities

Philadelphia is much larger than Atlanta and thus should be in the major cities category and it is a great tourist destination and so should be in the second category as well. Also how you have Seattle on that list and not Philadelphia is beyond me. While Seattle is certainly interesting and a great place to visit as well as a regional powerhouse, it is nowhere as interesting or notable as Philadelphia which is choc full of hilstorical places as well as its famous museums, restaurants and other fine places.

The "major cities" list you're referring to is just one individual's opinion on this talk page - see Wikitravel:Using talk pages for more information about talk pages, but a talk page is just a place to discuss things, and the list on this page is just an idea put forth by one individual. No one is saying that Atlanta is a major city and Philadelphia is not, the discussion was prompted by the many contributors who try to add their favorite city to United States#Cities list, despite the prominent warnings that we want only a "representative sample of nine cities" in the list. Five to nine is an agreed upon number that is considered to be a reasonable length for a list, and it gives us a way of avoiding debates such as whether Atlanta or Philadelphia (or Detroit or Kansas City or ...) is a better choice as "representative" of the US.
As an aside, you can sign your posts with four tildes (~~~~) to make communication easier. -- Ryan 02:43, 15 September 2006 (EDT)

RESPECT SECTION

Why is there no respect section here? I think it's needed as the US is one of the most nationalistic nations in the world, we really should warn that anti-Government/anti-gun/Pro-Communist comments will be treated with hostility -- Korea dan 08:00, 1 October 2006 (EDT)

Thanks for the good catch! The "Respect" section was lost back in May 2004 and never restored. I've reinstated the section as it was then. --Evan 09:18, 1 October 2006 (EDT)
What does everyone think of the warnings being added in Respect. Are they needed? Overstated? I don't think they are needed, but I am looking at it from a US standpoint and not as a visitor to the US. -- Tom Holland (xltel) 15:37, 1 October 2006 (EDT)
Well as the contributor I feel I should explain myself, there have been some occasions where foreigners have been detained for anti-US/terrorist sympathetic comments, I have discusses this with Xltel in more detail on his user talk. I think it is needed to state that america is very patriotic, and also that locals dont take kindly to anti-us government comments Korea dan 15:50, 1 October 2006 (EDT)
come on people.. this stuff is serious, why is it being removed. notably Bill on the hill please explain? Korea dan 15:54, 1 October 2006 (EDT)

The comments Tom is asking about:

Americans are generally very patriotic, 
and an insult or negative comment towards the 
country will be met with hostility or even aggression, 
this has become more prominent since the 9/11 attacks.	 

Also with the current terrorist situation, 
any kind of sympathetic comment for Islamic Extremism or even the 
North Korean government could land you in serious trouble, 
either with locals, or the security agencies (CIA, NSA)
Those comments are ridiculous. Few people will be harassed for saying "Bush is a moron", or whatever variation (Just don't say that to George, because he may take it personally).
I don't think anyone is so stupid to shout "Death to America! Allāhu Akbar! Allāhu Akbar! I love bin Laden!" Yelling something like that in any country (with the exception of a few war zones) will get you in trouble so I don't understand what the point of including this in the US article is.
I wouldn't get into a debate with the police or secturity officals anywhere about control, because what's the point? Police in almost every country carry guns. Talking about guns, or bombs, or supporting the murder of innocent people anywhere is inappropriate and is asking for trouble so I think it is pointless to be so overly cautious and try to paint America as a overly protective nation when doing the exact same irrational behavior would give rise to trouble in Russia, Germany, Venezeula, Canada, the UK, and New Zealand. -- Sapphire 15:58, 1 October 2006 (EDT)

Okay, folks, I am about this far from protecting this page. See Wikitravel:Protected_page_policy for the policy, why it is very rarely invoked, and why it is appropriate here. (Tom, in particular, see note about admins being involved; please don't do this yourself.) My only reason for reverting -- and for the moment I will revert every change until the edit war dies down, regardless of whether it's being made pro or con -- is to stabilize the article until calm heads can prevail again. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 16:00, 1 October 2006 (EDT)

ok ok. lets leave the respect section.. for now. although a naive editor will get his own way (tom) but still.. what can ya do. oh and sapphire, if you mention support for the iraq war in america, would you be arrested for that? no! see its not about the murder of innocent people, its about not opposing the americans Korea dan 16:03, 1 October 2006 (EDT)
I personally, do not have a problem if someone says anything anti-U.S. policy, but you say even saying "terrorist sympathetic comments" will get you in trouble in the U.S. - You're right, but it will get you in trouble in any other nation too. -- Sapphire 16:06, 1 October 2006 (EDT)
I don't think this is an appropriate use of the protected page policy per tradition. But since I'm not certain, I'd like to start a discussion at Wikitravel talk:Protected_page_policy about it. -- Colin 16:45, 1 October 2006 (EDT)
Just an idea for re-wording, what if I was to say "man americans take pride in thier nationality, and insults to the country may be taken personally?" or possibly "due to tension caused by the 9/11 attacks, political subjects should be handled with care?" what do we think? --Korea dan 08:21, 2 October 2006 (EDT)
The danger of a "respect" section is that it can overlap other sections of the article (such as Culture or Understand) or get bogged down in obvious stuff (such as - don't discuss bodily functions in mixed company, don't scream out to border officials that you're fond of terrorists). Wikitravel needs to assume a certain amount of common sense in its readers. Common sense is that a political discussion critical of US policy might be entirely appropriate on a college campus or anywhere people like to hold such discussions. On the other hand an "in your face" rant about politics would not be welcome by your airplane seatmate or your innkeeper. Do we need to carefully define how and when to debate politics? I think that's beyond the scope of this article; people either have common sense or they don't. I propose leaving the section as is.

SONORAMA 12:20, 2 October 2006 (EDT)

  • This is getting ridiculous, again. I'm very tempted to protect the page, but I will not do so without input from others. -- Sapphire 17:26, 5 October 2006 (EDT)

Hey, how come you deleted my section? It wasn't obvious stuff: "If you criticise the United States government, recognize that you are upset with the government, whose policies do not represent all Americans' indvidual beliefs. Some people will respond very negatively to your critcisms; while others will respond much more openly. Choose your debate partners wisely.

Not all Americans are the same! Do not stereotype with such comments as, "You Americans are so...(stupid, racist, etc.)," which are offensive, especially when made to a person's face.

If English is your foreign language, it is very easy to pick up the bad habit of swearing, because it is so common amongst certain circles, especially younger generations. However, swearing is quite rude and should generally be avoided. Do not be tricked by others' uncouthness into thinking that foul language is acceptable in polite society." Well, maybe the first two sections could be seen as obvious. But, the last was deifintely legitimate. Maybe you don't know too many foreign students in the U.S., but I do. And, they have a real problem with swearing! -- eratoclio

All of your content is still there, but I tried to shorten it - at this point the US article is too long, and editors frequently have to condense information that's in it. The info on swearing is now the last section in the article, but it's common knowledge in most countries that foul language is a bad idea, so I shortened that section - feel free to edit it if you'd like, but keep in mind that we want a useful travel guide, so try to focus on what's most important to the traveler! -- Ryan 16:46, 16 November 2006 (EST)
Ryan, thanks for your comment. I'm sorry; I didn't see that you shortened it. My bad. Also, you're a good, concise editor! Thanks. -- eratoclio
I made a few changes and condensed the "respect" section. For the record, I'm an American who has lived about half my life overseas. I eliminated the "Americans dislike arguing/don't discuss politics" part...actually I hear more discussions, arguments and debates about politics in America than almost anywhere else. I left most of the rest of the section intact, paring down some excessive verbage, and redacting some off-topic material such as the price of cigarettes. SONORAMA 13:12, 5 March 2007 (EST)

Protected

This page has been protected per bullets four and five of the Protected page policy. I did not want to do this, because the protect button is one I should not have used! I'm suggesting that the page remain protected until 19:40 (EST). -- Sapphire 17:40, 5 October 2006 (EDT)

Here's my take on it. If the page is to be protected, then dont name the time protection will be removed. Otherwise people set alarm clocks, sad though it may seem, and take up where they left off before, as evidenced by the changelog. I notice no discussion has been entered into with this user - however fruitless this may seem or eventually be I think this should be the first course of action. Other people reverting will also discourage the lone vandal to eventually give up. -- Snecklifter

Thanks for the input. The discussion is noted above this section. If anyone really thinks it's such an issue that I noted the time he/she may remove it from my edits so long as the general point is not lost. -- Sapphire 17:52, 5 October 2006 (EDT)
There are more people here who are interested in helping than vandalizing, so vandalism will eventually get cleaned up; page protection isn't really necessary or useful in combating vandalism, as this guy has shown. To deal with these folks it's generally easiest to just ignore them, let whatever changes they've made sit on the site for a bit, and then go in and clean up after they've wandered off. Most of these folks will return occasionally, but overall they're mostly harmless. -- Ryan 17:56, 5 October 2006 (EDT)
Couldn't agree more. Most people wandering across vandalism will revert. Tis the wiki way... -- Snecklifter
I'm open to reverting the protection (I'd rather do that). Shall I?
Actually a lot of discussion has been done. This user has an unusual worldwiew (see his support of North Korea, for example at Talk:North Korea) which is a fine and dandy thing to have, diversity being a good thing and all. But his changes have been 95% about his political views and he is unwilling to accept that the consensus of editors is clearly against him (see talk and contribs by all his accounts User:Korea dan, User:Xxxdanxxx, User:Ok, and User:Hate usa). Basically, he's been informed that he should generate consensus on talk pages before attempting contraversial changes. So although he wasn't messaged much about the current USA changes, pretty much he was already on notice not to do that and he already has been informed of the proper procedure for lobbying for consensus support of a contraversial change. -- Colin 18:01, 5 October 2006 (EDT)

I've reverted the protection.

He started at 13:02 and finished at 14:03, so it looks like his dime ran out at the internet cafe. -- Colin 18:11, 5 October 2006 (EDT)

Penny vs cent

It's formally called a "cent", but it's often called a "penny", and that's why travelers need to know the alternate name. Jpatokal 03:34, 10 October 2006 (EDT)

Concur. Also, knowing that "penny" is an informal term is irrelevant.... I didn't know this until five minutes ago, and it has apparently never affected my ability to conduct a transaction. -- Colin 03:40, 10 October 2006 (EDT)


isnt "penny" a bit old. cent would be alot better, as forginers would be able to understand it more, considering cent is used in alot more countries then penny

The first line of the "Buy" section already says "The official US currency is the United States dollar (symbol: $), divided into 100 cents (¢)". The coin, though, is a penny. Jpatokal 04:00, 12 October 2006 (EDT)

Guns

I've removed the suggestion that shooting firearms is a readily available activity for any visitor to the the U.S. This is untrue because only legal residents of the US may purchase or use firearms in the U.S. The Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 (PL 99-308) forbids anyone with a nonimmigrant visa from obtaining a weapon. Additionally, many state laws require background checks before someone can rent or purchase a firearm.

The section also vaguely suggests importing firearms is acceptable, but federal law requires anyone importing a firearm to prove that importing a firearm will be used by a federal, state, or local govenment agency; for scientific research; or for manufacturer testing purposes. The 'bring your own gun' comment may have meant that U.S. residents may bring their own weapons but U.S. residents will already, or at least should, know about the applicable laws that govern firearm contol in their respective state or territory.

Lastly, firearms are not "uniquely American". -- Sapphire 16:42, 15 November 2006 (EST)

You imply that nonimmigrant foreigners cannot hunt or participate in shooting sports in the US. This is simply not the case. The law you quote above provides specific exceptions for those foreigners who are who 1) have a valid state-issued hunting license and 2) have resided in the US at least 90 days. For those whose stay in the US will be less than 90 days, there is a mechanism to temporarily import guns and ammunition (ATF Form 6 NIA) for use in lawful hunting or sport shooting. I've cited ATF article in the article.
No, firearms per se are not "uniquely American", however the United States is one of a few countries where guns can legally be kept and used by the population and there are likewise probably more gun enthusiasts and rifle ranges in the United States than in most other countries. Hunting, skeet shooting, and competitive shooting are activities that foreigners can enjoy with a bit of preparation. So I've restored the paragraph on shooting guns, however, I've added some of the important legal considerations that you allude to. SONORAMA 09:51, 17 November 2006 (EST)
Where do you get the idea that the US is one of the few countries where guns can legally be kept? AFAIK you can legally keep guns in all but a handful of countries. -- Mark 10:54, 17 November 2006 (EST)
Sadly, there are only a few countries with a culture of lawful gun ownership. A few, like Switzerland, require men or heads of household to keep a gun in the house for civil defense purposes. In other places, guns may be everywhere -- but in the hands of criminals or corrupt government officials. The US is unique in embracing the positive side of gun ownership, and in granting its citizens the specific right to keep and enjoy them. SONORAMA 20:15, 17 November 2006 (EST)
I think it's kind of weird that you think that the US is alone there. That's just not true. Pretty much the only country I can think of where gun ownership is not allowed is Japan. France, England, Scotland, the scandinavian countries and the eastern European countries, oh and South America for instance have a very similar relationship to firearms ownership to that of Americans. It's just a simple fact.
Meanwhile in many parts of Africa or the middle east you can actually walk around in public with serious military weapons - something you cannot do, and which would be looked at very much askance in the USA. -- Mark 17:31, 18 November 2006 (EST)
Mark, show us the web site of just one country that says, "Yes, please bring serious military weapons here for your enjoyment." You won't find that because, officially, they don't allow weapons or place many restrictions on them. Sure there are some countries where people walk around bearing all kinds of arms -- but that is more a symptom of the breakdown of law and order. Those people are carrying guns to defend themselves or to intimidate others. They aren't families going our for an afternoon of skeet-shooting. If you don't believe me, just try to arrange a safari including importing weapons to a 3rd world country -- believe me it's a helluva a lot more complicated than you think. But in any case, this article is about United States, and fortunately, one can keep, bear and shoot guns in the US for one's own enjoyment and leisure, and not just for self defense. SONORAMA 23:11, 18 November 2006 (EST)
Um, show me the US gov website which says you can bring guns into the country for leisure. Then prove to me that I can't go to a shooting range in France, for example. That's going to be a pretty hard thing to prove to me, btw, since I've done it. Besides this time of year every restaurant you go to is all about this and that animal that some hunter has shot and brought in.. which can make it hard to eat out if you don't eat meat, let me tell you.
Seriously, what I really think is going on here is that you have an agenda to promote your pro-firearms point of view, and you are somehow trying to use our travel guide to do it. Meanwhile, no serious world traveller would think, hmmm... if I want to go somewhere where I can shoot guns, I guess that would be the USA. Most can do the kind of sport shooting you are talking about right at home. -- Mark 03:16, 19 November 2006 (EST)

Here's why I'm against including this information.

  • States are in charge of regulation. The U.S. Constitution may grant Americans the right to bear arms, but states have the power to regulate and restrict firearms in it's territories, not the federal government. So, while the U.S. government may say "In our opinon, you should be allowed to bring your gun in for a hunting competion in Wyoming" that's not necessairly what Wyoming will say. They may say that type of weapon is forbidden within the state's boundaries. We cannot adequately convey every firearm law at federal and local levels.
  • Other nations do say "Yes, please bring serious military weapons here for your enjoyment." Since this discussion has started I've begun to closer look at the laws of other nations and even tightly regulated countries like Germany allow recreation firearm use by aliens within Germany. As does Canada, France, the UK. I believe Poland allows the importation of firearms for recreational purposes, but it has been two years since I've checked.
  • This information panders to a very limited group. I think we can safely assume any dedicated hunters or recreational firearm enthusiasts that are aliens to the U.S. will probably belong to some form of a hunting association and will have access to informations about the importation and participation in firearm related activities in other nations.
  • Democrats. Democrats have taken control of the U.S. House of Reps and Senate and another assualt weapons ban is likely. The last Congress did not extend the past assault weapons ban and the only reason semi-automatic AK-47s are available for purchase is because of the failure of the Republican controlled Congress to extend the bans length of time. Previously, the Democratic Party has indicated support for a ban and any information pertaining to the importation and use of firearms by foreigners may rapidly change.

If you really need information from the embassies of the nations that I note above I will give you the links. -- Sapphire 00:32, 19 November 2006 (EST)

This converstation is getting way off the topic of editing the web page. I respect all the views presented about firearms. I never expected a tiny one line entry to the page would engender such controversy. Sapphire, to address your points -- they are valid, and in fact they could apply to many parts of most any article here. Information changes frequently regardless of who's in congress. Most individual line-entries of articles do appeal (you say pander) to only a very limited group. Also, states in the US are in charge of a great deal of regulations. Back to my opinion -- There is no point arguing pro or against guns here, we all have our own points of view. Given the # of rifle ranges, hunting clubs, etc. in the US, the activity of shooting obviously has its fans, and it is reasonable to expect that some travelers may want to participate.


If I can throw my 2 cents in, I think the # of travelers wishing to participate would be a fraction of a percent, and I agree that this should be removed from Do or at least cut way down, and definitely put at the bottom of the hopefully soon-to-be-expanded Do section. I think the section's sparseness is what makes it so jarring, coupled with the fact that it's the first thing in the list following the 'things not to be missed' introduction. I suppose the next comment will be something to the effect of 'plunge forward', so I'll say that I'm drawing a blank at the moment on what should be added... but the section needs something! Cacahuate 07:57, 19 November 2006 (EST)


Firstly, I don't think that the question is just whether gun-ownership is legal, but whether the cultural acceptance of shooting as a recreational activity is distinctive enough to mention. To give an analogy, while I am sure one can ski both in the US and in Switzerland, it makes sense to include skiing in Switzerland's "Do" section, but not in USA's "Do" section. Secondly, we aren't necessarily talking of buying, owning or importing guns, but of shooting - can a traveller go to a range, rent a gun and practise some shooting? Thirdly, it is a matter of editorial judgement whether we should include such information here. Is it likely to interest a sufficient number of travellers? I am a vegetarian and I have never fired a live gun in my life. The idea of killing defenseless animals with guns repels me, but the idea of learning to fire a gun and doing some target practice does interest me. It is not on the top of my list of things to do in the US, but I will not find it ridiculous to see it in a list, and other travellers might have different priorities.
Finally, and this is not strictly focused on the topic, but I do wish that when people support or object to something, they should come right out and state their biases and separate factual questions from editorial judgement. I've seen this happening in the sex-tourism policy discussion, and I am seeing it happen here. I know that many people have strong opinions about guns, and probably feel that we shouldn't mention it at all. If so, it is better to come out and say it. I think that there is place for editorial judgement in Wikitravel, much more than in Wikipedia. Many things are a matter of taste and will not yield objectively right or wrong answers. It is tough enough to obtain a consensus in the matter of taste; we will make it tougher if, instead of accepting that it is, and declaring our taste, try to make it sound like a factual question. — Ravikiran 20:34, 19 November 2006 (EST)
After talking with Mark I think the best thing that we can do about this is create a topic like Recreational shooting or such. That way we can satisfy the concerns that I have and provide information to travellers that the information may be useful for.
I think that would be the best solution, for now, and I wouldn't be opposed to listing firing ranges, but I am opposed to trying to explain the firearm laws on the U.S. guide and states' articles.
As for Ravikiran's wish that we state our biases I'm pro-gun and I'm completely against another assualt weapons ban as US law, but I don't think this activity is so uniquely American that it needs to be covered on the US guide. The select group of people this info panders to may very well want to travel somewhere else, closer to home, or another country that may have easier visa laws for travellers. That's why I vote for starting a new travel topic. -- Sapphire 21:09, 19 November 2006 (EST)

Private jets?

I'm not really sure fractional jet ownership is a critical topic for the USA article, and you can do this outside the US too — should it be spun off into its own article? Jpatokal 23:47, 6 January 2007 (EST)

I view the information as useless to most travelers. It's really just cluttering the article for no good reason. On the other hand, if someone wants to make a travel topic about it then at least it's out of the way. So yeah, what you said. -- Colin 00:52, 7 January 2007 (EST)
Rather than creating an entirely new article, which will be of limited value on its own, can we incorporate the content into a larger topic? Travel transportation is pretty broad but would work... -- Ryan 00:58, 7 January 2007 (EST)
That looks like a good place for it. -- Colin 02:34, 7 January 2007 (EST)
Well, there are sub-topics for hitchhiking and long distance bus, why not include information about the high end of the spectrum? It is among the shortest sub topics in the "get around" section anyway. I agree there is some "useless" information in the article, but most of it falls under the Culture, Respect and other sections.SONORAMA 06:32, 7 January 2007 (EST)
I think there's two thing here. First, the topic appears to apply to more than the US so maybe the topic should be mentioned elsewhere as a more general topic. Second, in the US article hitchhiking needs to be covered since it is a popular mode of travel used by millions... and they need to know that it doesn't work well in the US; buses are used by many tens of thousands of people each year in the US. So when one compares the audience for hitchhiking/buses vs. private jets, I think it's pretty clear that the former are a lot more generally useful.
That said, no one here is proposing deleting it outright. It's just a question of Wikitravel:Where you can stick it. -- Colin 17:26, 7 January 2007 (EST)

Atlanta

On the city list does anybody think that Atlanta or Denver is more important than Seattle?

Have a look at #Sample Cities, #Nine cities and #5+-2. It's extraordinarily tough to say one city is "more important" than another, and I believe that the current consensus is that the list provides a good representative sample. -- Ryan (talk) 12:56, 17 March 2007 (EDT)
This is one of those angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin subjects: anyone can have an opinion, there is no single criterion for judging what's right, and it's not all that helpful anyway. Following the TTCF principle, I would prefer to attack this via (shorter) sublists that correspond to the identified regions earlier in the article, something like the following:
  • Mid-Atlantic:
    • Baltimore
    • New York City
    • Philadelphia
    • Washington, D.C.
  • South:
    • Atlanta
    • Miami
    • New Orleans
    • Raleigh-Durham
  • Midwest:
    • Chicago
    • Detroit
    • Minneapolis-St. Paul
    • St. Louis

-- and so on. The United States (like China, India, Indonesia, etc.) is too big and complex for a brief listing of "representative" cities to help the traveler much. As long as a solution compatible with the MoS exists, in the form of sub-lists, why not use it? -- Bill-on-the-Hill 13:16, 17 March 2007 (EDT)

I wholeheartedly agree with you, Bill - this will serve the traveler much better, and will appease my concerns over which nine cities are the most "notable." Blackberrylaw 05:45, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
You should not do this because if you evade the restriction here, it will be evaded elsewhere in order to include everyone's favorite city. -- Colin 12:21, 29 March 2007 (EDT)

Stay safe

There's nothing mentioned about the fact that the US has a very high crime rate. I know that most rural regions are kind of safe, but US cities tend to have a damn high crime when compared to cities around the world. I think the fact that the US has a v high crime rate needs to be mentioned s'where. I'll just look up the stats and put 'em down here in a few mts. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 06:09, 7 April 2007 (EDT)

Yup. The article should mention that the crime rates are notably higher than European countries. A visitor might incorrectly think that because Europe and the US are similar in terms of development and ethnicity that they have similar crime rates. -- Colin 12:01, 7 April 2007 (EDT)
According to most stats which I checked up on google, LA records more crime than Zurich+London+Paris+Stockholm. Agree fully with colin. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 04:40, 8 April 2007 (EDT)
First, as someone who has lived and travelled around the world, I don't feel that the United States is particularly dangerious. Secondly, I think a comparison on the level of "The United States has more crime than Europe, so traveller watch out" is flat out useless. IF a particular city has a crime problem, then we should say so IN THAT CITY'S ARTICLE. And we should be specific -- not just say "Big city XYZ has a lot of crime" but specify precisely where, when and how crime is committed. That would be useful to travelers. I sense some people want to turn the United States article into a sociological comparison of United States vs. Europe. That leads to a lot of hemming-and hawing language and useless verbiage that we should best avoid. SONORAMA 05:51, 10 April 2007 (EDT)

I sense some people want to turn the United States article into a sociological comparison of United States vs. Europe : SONORAMA

Just for the record, Mr/Mrs SONORAMA, I'm Asian, and have no prejudices against either Europe or America. But overall crime in the USA is more than it is in Europe, Asia, or even Africa. I'm not specifically talking about LA, even medium sized cities in the US tend to get quite dangerous. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 06:33, 12 April 2007 (EDT)

Not to mention that Colin (who agrees with me fully) is from California. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) •

Well Mr/Mrs Upamanyu, you've raised two good points that in support of my position. 1) Why is "Europe" the basis of comparison here? Why not compare crime in the US to that in Asia, Latin America, Africa, Australia... 2) Comparing one continent's crime rate to another's is hardly useful. What part of Europe? Sure Switzerland and Norway may have less crime per-capita than California. But how about Italy, Romania or Paris? They likely have far higher crime rates than America, including the types of crime that affects tourists. Frankly, the article is long enough already. Let's not add silly comparisons to it as they give very little useful information to the traveller. Instead, as I said, put relevant and specific crime information in the appropriate city article or in one of the sub-headings under the America article.SONORAMA 09:23, 13 April 2007 (EDT)

You needn't call me Mr or Mrs. I'm a 13 year old school kid studying in Grade 9. - *Why not compare crime in the US to that in Asia, Latin America, Africa, Australia -- Check up Google:America beats them all. - *Italy, Romania or Paris vs your average Am city? Check up google. USA has over 40% of the world's prisoners. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 00:41, 14 April 2007 (EDT)

How about a link Upamanyu? That might be helpful to put this debate to rest. Also, having more prisoners does not imply more crime - one could even say that more prisoners = less crime. But whichever country has higher crime, I'd prefer that the article offer specific information, rather than just comparisons of one country vs. another. Peace, SONORAMA 07:37, 14 April 2007 (EDT)

Mr SONORAMA, you perceive hostility that I don't think is intended. Europe is often used as a point of comparison in describing the US because A) it's familiar to many travelers (especially the ones making the comparsions) and B) due to its cultural similarity it's the area that people might expect the U.S. to resemble. I agree that information of which cities (and which parts) are dangerous belongs in the articles themselves, but getting combative like this doesn't help. - Todd VerBeek 10:39, 14 April 2007 (EDT)

Profanity

There's some weird stuff written about profanity not being socially accepted in America. Well, these figures from WP seem to be telling a diff story

72-percent of American men and 58-percent of American women swear in public, and 61-percent of adolescents and 89-percent of adults swear in public. (from Wikipedia:Profanity

Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 08:16, 13 April 2007 (EDT)

Would some American please explain the stuff to me and solve this issue. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 08:16, 13 April 2007 (EDT)

This is the text in question. Cursing or using foul language is considered a bad habit that is best avoided. While most Americans use a few choice words now and then, people generally choose their words carefully when in public, and especially so if children are present.

Hmmm, having never been to America, I can't tell (well, i did once stay 2 nights in NYC but I was 5 yrs old at that time). Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 08:21, 13 April 2007 (EDT)

"Is considered"... blech! I hate that term. Vague attribution to anonymous authority.
Taboo words, like "swear" words, are interesting exactly because you're not supposed to say them. Knowing when to transgress those rules is something that Americans (and other people around the world) learn over a lifetime. It depends on a complicated mix of audience, setting, and situation. I think the dissemination of American films and music around the world gives some people the impression that Americans cuss a lot more than we actually do. The consequences of cussing in the wrong way or at the wrong time are almost uniformly minor, but it can definitely get in the way of making a cultural connection. I'll see if I can amend the language to be a little more descriptive rather than proscriptive. --Evan 08:38, 13 April 2007 (EDT)
I was going to list when it's not appropriate to swear, but it's easier to list when you can.
  • When telling a joke.
  • On the road, when the *&$%&!@ in front of you cuts you off.
  • When exclaiming something or asking a question that question the factualness of a statement or situation. (I.e. You're fu*&ing kidding me, right!?) -- Sapphire(Talk) • 08:50, 13 April 2007 (EDT)
I think it all depends on context. One does not say "You're fuc-ing kidding me" when speaking with an elderly lady. One does not tell lewd jokes where children are present. And just try telling someone at a biker bar that his bike or broad looks like shit - the consequences will be very swift and severe. SONORAMA 22:45, 14 April 2007 (EDT)
The current article text overstates the case, but it is true that going beyond the milder curse words with a stranger is going to come across as either crude or hostile. It's only appropriate for joking when you're among people you know well enough to joke with. And I don't think that the last item on this list is going to be considered appropriate with a lot of people over, say, 30. The simplest "rule" is that profanity is for getting people's attention and expressing displeasure, so it's best for the traveler to refrain from using it unless that's what he's trying to do. - Todd VerBeek 09:02, 13 April 2007 (EDT)
Yeah, the last item is somewhat iffy. Being 21, I don't curse all that often, except when to express displeasure with a very serious failure of judgment. I do curse when telling a joke that requires it, but my normally my personality ventures away from the "dirty" jokes. Another example I can think of is all the cursing that goes on at football games, but then again, most of the people that are cursing there are rooting for the losing team and have had quite a few beers. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 09:11, 13 April 2007 (EDT)
Well, there you go. In India for example people don't tend to go beyond "shit". And a person who says f*** on a monthly basis is considered rude and abusive. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 23:20, 13 April 2007 (EDT)

Well, I seriously don't know much, so thanks for all this feedback. But to me Americans tend to use f words while joking all the time. Here in India it is considered extremely innappropriate and if you curse in a public place (in whatever context) you're likely to receive stares. Of course, there are exceptions, such as Delhi, which is a city of hooligans. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 23:11, 13 April 2007 (EDT)

In India, people who curse are associated with uneducated folk who can't distinguish between right and wrong. But in America people across all classes curse, right? Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 23:17, 13 April 2007 (EDT)

I mean, even Cacahuate used the f word on Talk:Hell. But I guess it's simply American culture. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 23:25, 13 April 2007 (EDT)

As Evan was saying above, for a lot of people breaking the taboos and pushing the boundaries of appropriateness is appealing... and in my case a sport (which I excel at, by the way). But also words change their meaning with time, and also gain and lose their strength and signifigance... I find them very dynamic and constantly changing. I hate to use this example, but it's sort of how the "N" word was (and is) such a nasty word here in America, but African-Americans themselves started using it and it no longer has the same charge that it used to have... of course depending on the context and who's saying it. For me, the F word isn't so vulgar, but as you can see, I won't say the N word... ever... and even with the F word, I use it in a joking context which isn't that offensive, but I would never direct it at a person, unless he was a fucking idiot. – cacahuate talk 00:28, 14 April 2007 (EDT)

You mean to say that in America people find negr* more offensive than the f word?
Without a doubt - negro is just ignorant, but the ruder variation of it is most definitely fightin' words – cacahuate talk 00:52, 14 April 2007 (EDT)
You mean nigg**??
That's the one... it's a no-no... – cacahuate talk 02:01, 15 April 2007 (EDT)
Well, I guess it's simply a matter of clashing cultures. To all Americans: Sorry for my ignorance. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 00:31, 14 April 2007 (EDT)
No need to apologize, you're not ignorant. And who knows, you may suddenly find a liking for the F word in your 14th or 15th year... keep an open mind  :) Just don't tell your parents I said that, I don't want any angry emails. – cacahuate talk 00:37, 14 April 2007 (EDT)
I bet you a million $s that I'll never use the F word throughout my whole life. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 00:42, 14 April 2007 (EDT)
I bet you've used mata-chudh at least once, no? – cacahuate talk 02:01, 15 April 2007 (EDT)
Nope, never. That lit. means mother- f***er. Just for the record, it is not mata, it is maadar (a distortion of mother). Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 09:36, 15 April 2007 (EDT)
You seem to forget that I'm a Bengali, not a Hindi-phoney. People in Delhi abuse all the time (although it's nothing compared to the US I suppose), but not at other places. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 09:40, 15 April 2007 (EDT)
People in Delhi use Behenc*** (sisterf****er) as a punctuation mark. That is certainly more than what Americans use in every day conversation. — Ravikiran 11:35, 15 April 2007 (EDT)

Thanks for the info guys... Upamanyu, it looks like I'm just 3 stars away from getting you to say the F word... progress is being made... – cacahuate talk 01:32, 16 April 2007 (EDT)

Cacahuate, this isn't stuff to joke about. I never abuse and loathe abusive language (I've got fed up repeating that about a 100 times...).

To Ravi:Good point. But most of India is way way more civilized than Delhi. I myself detest the place. If you ask me, Delhi should be kicked out of India along with UP and they should form a separate country. They're a shame to the nation. BTW, my mom watched Omkara and resolved never to cross the border into UP :) :( Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 05:12, 16 April 2007 (EDT)

Region map

While I appreciate the effort to reflect reality by showing that various regions blend into each other rather than having sharp borders, this is somewhat contradictory to how we (theoretically) use regions in our geographical hierarchy. I'd rather have the map serve as a visual guide to which states are in which of our regions rather than trying to show some of the places where the regions blend into each other. - Todd VerBeek 18:31, 14 April 2007 (EDT)

First, nice map! Thanks for doing it! Second, having just realized that on the map the Great Plains blends with the South and Rocky Mountains I'd tend to agree with Todd that we're probably better off just using solid colors, and dealing with the "but X is really in Y" debates as they come up. -- Ryan • (talk) • 19:17, 14 April 2007 (EDT)
It looks like several edits have been made to the region articles that added states to our original regional breakdown, so I've tried to revert back to the original versions. Hopefully any overlaps are now gone. -- Ryan • (talk) • 20:02, 14 April 2007 (EDT)
OK, I have to redo this map, seems like I messed up on the licensing side and based this on an existing map with a GNU license rather than the Public Domain that I though it was. I'm going to remove the map temporarily, but will redo it this weekend and have a new one back within two or three days; if the regions are nicely defined again then I can do it correctly and not use any blending between states. --NJR_ZA 15:55, 25 April 2007 (EDT)
If I can put in my 2¢, I actually really liked the color gradients you used with states that are mostly in one region, but at least partly in another. As long as you keep the same sophisticated boundaries you used before, I would encourage you to keep them in the map because it conveys a lot of useful information to the traveler. But I do think it would help to pick more distinct colors for the Great Plains and Midwest regions. --Peterfitzgerald Talk 18:25, 26 April 2007 (EDT)
I don't think anyone here disputes that traditional boundaries of US regions are "fuzzy" - for example, the traditional "Southwest" region definitely includes portions of Texas, California and Colorado. However, for the purposes of organizing the Wikitravel travel guides the regional borders are drawn at state lines without any fuzziness, and it would probably be best if the map reflected that. My view is that a map of US regions on Wikitravel is a sort of table-of-contents for articles about places in the US rather than a encyclopedic description, and just like a book wouldn't say "this chapter ends between pages 15 and 18", I don't think we want to describe our hierarchy as having fuzzy borders when it doesn't. -- Ryan • (talk) • 00:21, 27 April 2007 (EDT)
OK, I have recreated the region map, this time based on Public Domain work. I did not do the color gradients on the region (The reason I did those initially was because the information in the USA articles were already a bit fuzzy and I was not totally sure where each region ends). If we make the map fuzzy it might encourage people to make the articles more fuzzy as well and that is something I'm sure we want to avoid.
This map is a lot better and more detailed than my previous attempt and we can easily use it to generate maps for the each region as well. If someone can just check that I did not make any stupid mistakes (spelling, state in a wrong region etc) and that everyone is happy with the colors used, then I'll go ahead and generate those individual region maps as well. --NJR_ZA 08:01, 27 April 2007 (EDT)
I like the new map. My only concerns are the inclusion of the cities (state capitals really aren't useful information for travel purposes, and they're also hard to read); and the light-grey borders being hard to make out in the lighter-colored regions. Will you be uploading the vector-based source for it as SVG? - Todd VerBeek 09:30, 27 April 2007 (EDT)
The svg is already on shared shared:Image:Map-USA-Regions01.svg The capitals are on a layer of their own, you can easily switch them off if you want. --NJR_ZA 09:39, 27 April 2007 (EDT)
Just to explain my point (not that its a big deal), while I see that we might want to emphasize the "one parent region per geographic unit" aspect of the geographical hierarchy, I actually thought the gradients helped clear up the fuzziness of our sometimes arbitrary regional groupings. Someone wondering why Florida is not included in the south would get the picture right away seeing that we have acknowledged the Panhandle as being southern. Moreover, some acknowledgement of "regional fuzziness" in the lower level articles is quite useful for the traveler who wants to know, say, that while southern Utah is full of southwestern-style desert attractions, northern Utah is a great destination for Rocky Mountain climbs, hikes, and alpine sports. I liked the color gradients because they conveyed all this useful information at a glance. But anyway, great job with the new map! And I second Todd's point about the cities — maybe just include the most important cities and remove the capitals? --Peterfitzgerald Talk 09:45, 27 April 2007 (EDT)
I also think it looks really good. The only very minor things I would say is to just create a tiny bit more space between the words Rhode Island & Connecticut and Delaware & Maryland... you may have to tilt the pointer lines a bit, but I think that would look better... and then center North Dakota and South Dakota a bit... otherwise, looks perfect to me! Can you put a note somewhere in California though that reminds people that it's the best state? Word it however you like... – cacahuate talk 02:25, 28 April 2007 (EDT)
Sunshine, beaches, babes and non of that cold white stuff covering the whole place in winter. Who needs reminding? --NJR_ZA 03:15, 28 April 2007 (EDT)

Guns, again

Hey, so if this section stands as is, then I'm going to add a similar section to France. I don't hunt, and as a matter of fact I'm a vegetarian, but it just creeps me out a little that we have a section claiming that hunting is an activity that's special to the USA. It's easier to get a hunting permit in France and a number of other countries than it is in the US, so why the heck don't we cover this topic there? -- Mark 20:34, 5 May 2007 (EDT)

Putting aside the fact that any edits involving guns will invariably be seen as biased by one group or another, wouldn't it make more sense to move information about guns and hunting into articles for cities, states and regions where it would be more appropriate? For example, while there are a fair number of people who visit Alaska or the Rocky Mountains (United States of America) to hunt, I suspect the number that travel to the Mid-Atlantic (United States of America) or many other parts of the country for hunting is statistically insignificant. Similarly, while shooting ranges can be found throughout the country, that also seems like something that would be better handled by listing individual shooting ranges for various city articles since it is such a niche for travelers. Moving the info out of the broader US article would also allow us to avoid any edit battles that would lead to every country article having a section on gun laws and hunting. -- Ryan • (talk) • 20:52, 5 May 2007 (EDT)
I reverted the edits about France (let's keep that in the France article). As for guns being "controversial", I don't think so. Americans have the Constitutional right to own guns, unlike other countries where guns have severe restrictions. I know of quite a few people who have participated in shooting sports such as skeet who previously had no experience with or even interest in guns. As long as the US has a culture of lawful gun ownership, gun information should be kept in the main article. SONORAMA 21:20, 5 May 2007 (EDT)
Note the distinction of "EDITS involving guns" being controversial. My point, however, is that a paragraph about guns probably doesn't belong in the US article, it belongs in articles about regions where hunting or use of firearms are major activities. Without looking up stats I would wager heavily that more travelers participate in bird watching, parasailing, academic competitions, miniature golfing and any number of other random activities than participate in any activities involving guns, and just as a paragraph on those activities is inappropriate for the US article, a paragraph about guns is also inappropriate since they are all niche activities for the vast majority of travelers. The country-level article is meant to provide a high-level overview, and while mentioning country-specific activities like hunting, sport-shooting, etc. is OK in brief, more detailed info belongs in the appropriate regional articles. -- Ryan • (talk) • 23:30, 5 May 2007 (EDT)

I hate the section too and I think it should be removed. As I have stated before, I'm in favor of the Second Amendment, albeit I'm nowhere near as fanatic about the Second Amendment as the National Rifle Association is. Basically my reasoning for the removal of the section is:

  • Hunting is not a solely American activity. Even restrictive Germany has fairly laxed laws regarding bringing in weapons in from outside the country for purposes of hunting. This is the case for apparently quite a few countries.
  • Laws very from state to state Ok, the ATF might give you a permit to bring a rifle in to the U.S., but that doesn't mean California will. Plus, with the unfortunate event at Virginia Tech gun laws throughout the U.S. will likely get more complicated for foreigners.
  • I say we remove the section and use Recreational shooting. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 00:55, 6 May 2007 (EDT)
Agree whole-heartedly with Ryan and Sapphire, would be very happy to see it only mentioned in the regions/cities where it's relevant. Definitely not significant enough to warrant mention on the main US page. It's been bugging me there for a while now. – cacahuate talk 02:10, 7 May 2007 (EDT)
I too agree with Ryan and Sapphire. It is in no way a defining point of the States in my eyes, and is surely an activity pursued by only a tiny fraction of visitors from overseas. Texugo 05:40, 7 May 2007 (EDT)
Folks, ALL of the activities in the "DO" section are "persued by only a tiny fraction of visitors from overseas". The others, in fact (Burning Man, Grand Ole Opry) -- probably attract a miniscule amount of people as compared with all shooting sports in general. If we are going to eliminate Guns, then we should eliminate the ENTIRE "Do" section. Should only large, mass-market attractions be included in a Wikitravel article? Personally I think this would be a sad mistake. As it stands now, the "Do" section offers the reader a few lesser-known activities that nonetheless have won the respect of a huge number of people who visit or "do" them. And THAT, my friends, is what Do section should strive to cover. SONORAMA 07:07, 7 May 2007 (EDT)
I have no problem with recreational shooting being mentioned, but the kind of coverage you seem to be demanding for it here is out of proportion to the other items mentioned, and cluttering the article with specifics better covered elsewhere (something I recall you objecting to when the topic was different). How about "The country's frontier tradition of hunting and comparatively liberal gun-ownership laws make the U.S. a destination for recreational shooting." ? - Todd VerBeek 08:01, 7 May 2007 (EDT)
The thing that I'm having a problem with is that there are lots of other countries that are better destinations for hunters and recreational shooters, and the stuff here reads like it's trying to say that the US is the place to go if you want to shoot guns. I get the feeling that this is wishful thinking, but so far it's just not true. Of course it might actually be true before too long considering that a big chunk of the American left is now in support of an absolute individual right to bear arms, but that's not the point, the point is that there's nothing special about the US for visiting hunters/shooters. Burning man doesn't happen anywhere else. -- Mark 08:11, 7 May 2007 (EDT)
I second Todd's reasonable proposal. The section as it stands reads awkwardly, as though it were making a political point about the greatness of the 2nd Amendment. I agree fullheartedly that shooting is not a unique attraction of the United States and therefore does not deserve a lengthy treatment on the main article. To treat it as such makes the article look less professional, as though wikitravel editors were unaware that shooting sports exist outside of the United States. If it were not for SONORAMA's impassioned arguments on this talk page, I would have removed/reduced this section at first glance as a matter of course. --Peterfitzgerald Talk 10:45, 7 May 2007 (EDT)
Ditto Todd's recommendation. WindHorse 11:09, 7 May 2007 (EDT)

I'm with Mark on this one. I'm not convinced the topic even deserves a sentence. Hunting/shooting off a few rounds is, quite simply, not uniquely American and as such does not deserve a mention in this guide. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 11:36, 7 May 2007 (EDT)

Deferring to the groups's consensus, I changed the Guns item to Todd's text. Any further information about shooting sports we can and should add to the recreational shooting page. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by SONORAMA (talkcontribs)
I'm not sure that two people makes a consensus. I, like Sapphire, am not convinced we need to mention hunting sports at all. We don't feel the need to mention any other sports in the Do section of this article, and there are plenty of more likely sports for tourists to do than go hunting (tennis, swimming, golf, etc.). Why should hunting get special attention here? Texugo 00:21, 8 May 2007 (EDT)
Actually I like having a sporting section. Lots of people travel to the US to participate in individual sports, so why not have a section that includes skiing, hiking, fishing, hunting, shooting, etc? All of those other sports should be there, and the shooting bit shouldn't sound so, well, defensive as does the current text, but individual sports definitely belong in the Do section. -- Mark 03:41, 8 May 2007 (EDT)
Well, Mark is right in that we should and do provide listings for places to practice sports, but those listing are in the individual destinations where they belong. However, there is no reason to mention all possible sports on a page that covers the entire US, nor is there reason to mention a single sport like hunting for which types, regulations, seasons and terrains differ so vastly from place to place within the US. Texugo 04:45, 8 May 2007 (EDT)
I like Mark's suggestion about touching on all those things... but I vote for touching very lightly. It could even be just one sentence/bullet point in the Do section; how about:
  • Hit the great outdoors - The large variety of landscapes across the country yields a plethora of opportunities for about any sport you can imagine including skiing, hiking, fishing, hunting, shooting, etc.
I don't mind shooting being mentioned in the main article if it's in this context... but before it was just too jarring – cacahuate talk 00:57, 10 May 2007 (EDT)
I can support the above suggestion. Texugo 01:41, 10 May 2007 (EDT)
I'd also like to support cacahuate's proposal—that would be a nice way to link to a bunch of travel topics without expanding the section unduly. --Peterfitzgerald Talk 02:00, 10 May 2007 (EDT)

It's for TRAVELERS/VISITORS

Unless I am missing something Wikitravel is meant for travelers/visitors. Guns? Accept it, we as citzens have a right to bear arms and be glad of it. I was born in 1948 and granted, I may not have traveled to as many places as many of you. But, I have notice a real difference in the attitude towards Americans when outside of the Country, now as opposed to earlier years. It has not improved. Please ponder why this change, and what can we as Americans do to improve our standing with the world wide community that so many of us appreciate visiting. I as a visitor to other areas in the Country and outside, look for events and attractions. Like The Ford Museum, Smithsonian, the 4th of July and other treasures of our Country that are lacking description in Wikitravel. I know Wikitravel is somewhat in its infancy, but I think some are being distracted and spending way too much time on non-issues. I seldom say much and don't be dissapointed if I do not join a debate. AND, by the way where in the heck are all the photo's of this Great Country. Not one of Miami, I don't beleive that. By the way. Great job on the Wikitravel idea!!!!!! Just felt like adding my 2 cents.2old 14:01, 11 May 2007 (EDT)

Christians hate homosexuals

I'm kind of taking issue with the whole 'intolerance of homosexuals is popularly linked to fundamental Christian churches.' You know, this is Wikitravel and we should dispel a lot of myths. I and my church would never go out and preach 'God kills American soldiers because of gays', nor would any other Christian, except for a few fuck ups. I'm not plunging forward right away because of the explosiveness of the issue, but if it's really necessary to talk about Christian view points on sexuality then we should explain the topic more fully because the way it's currently worded leaves a lot open for the imagination and could make the 99% of us who are sensible look like a bunch of barbarians. Most denominations consider all forms of sex outside of marriage a sin; those same churches that disapprove of homosexual acts would disapprove of me screwing the pastor's wife (assuming I'm not the pastor, which I'm not. ;) ) So in churches, yes, there's an intolerance for many things that churches view as sin or against God's will, but no Christian (except for those few supposed "Christian" radicals, who then go out and sin by harming others) will condemn someone else, especially when we've all done stuff that, if we were judged by Old Testament standards would get us stoned-to-death. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 18:00, 21 May 2007 (EDT)

I'm all for just taking out the reference too. I figured I'd leave it in, toned down, and then just remove it later ;) --Peterfitzgerald Talk 18:33, 21 May 2007 (EDT)
The point here shouldn't be to talk about Christian viewpoints on sexuality or myths about them, but rather what the gay traveler ought to know about traveling in the USA. I have a pretty good perspective on that, and I'd like to take a stab at crafting an appropriate paragraph. - Todd VerBeek 19:20, 21 May 2007 (EDT)
I think the text clearly means fundamentalist as in very conservative, in opposition to tolerant/flexible, and in connection with the general environment foreign gay and lesbian people would find when visiting an area where those kind of churches/denominations prevail. Whatever our own views of the issue are, I don't think dispelling myths is more our job than presenting actual facts. Knowing if they can share a double bed, display affection and openly talk about their homosexuality in public are issues that can matter to a gay couple, for instance, and although I don't live in the US, I'm pretty sure that kind of behaviour is not generally regarded in the same way as other "equivalent"(bigamy, etc.) "sins" in such cases. Maybe some rewording applies, but I wouldn't remove the text at all. -- Ricardo (Rmx) 19:32, 21 May 2007 (EDT)
Todd, by all means, please reword it to be reflective of what's relevant to the traveler.
I probably didn't specify myself as clearly as I should have, but I'd have no problem stating the Westboro peeps are extreme, but fundamentalist is a generic term that I think should not be used. I can agree with the term "Christian extremist", but I don't like these terms invented by the media that have no real meaning. Can someone adequate define what a left-leaning nut job is? or what an conservative is? Not anymore.
I'd identify myself as conservative, but you know I have no problem with gays, in fact my best friend is gay and we go to church together. I just have a problem with the stereotype perpetuated in the media, that just because I sometimes (foolishly) support Republicans, am pro-life that means I'm a homophobic, racist warmonger. I'm probably more fundamental than the stereotypical fundamentalists are since I dislike war/"policing actions" as number six in the KJV says "Thou shalt not kill", even though "murder" may be the better translation. (I know, it may be a bit hypocritical to advocate the traveler would be better suited to carry a weapon in Iraq, but I'm also thinking if if you need to protect yourself, then you have to what you have to do.)
Anyhow, I'm basically against calling conservatives, even the very conservatives, as I can sometimes be intolerant. I'm all for listening to other view points and loving other people, as I am both commanded to and want to. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 20:02, 21 May 2007 (EDT)

"Do" rewrite

I tried to rewrite the "Do" section. The previous version just lacked any useful information, so I hope my rewrite improved it a bit, if not, by all means revert it, but it's preferable that you plunge forward and fix it. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 07:00, 1 June 2007 (EDT)

Err, I kinda liked some of the stuff in the previous version. Eg Grand Ole Opry and Burning Man are indeed uniquely American, while the generic holiday stuff belongs in "Understand". And that weird Yankee sport where chunky guys throw around pigskins, pat each other on the butt and say "punt" a lot has nothing to do with football as the rest of the world understands it =P Jpatokal 07:41, 1 June 2007 (EDT)
I restored Burning Man and added Grand Ole Opry to Music section... clarified football as American football... and added in the sentence about the "great outdoors" per a recent conversation above. I like the rewrite, definitely a step in the right direction. Yeah, holidays should be moved... I'm a little lazy at the moment... – cacahuate talk 15:12, 1 June 2007 (EDT)

Street gangs

I've removed a bit advising visitors "to be aware of" street gangs -- there's no practical way to do this, and neither is there much of a reason to. Jpatokal 22:10, 23 July 2007 (EDT)

Jani, obviously you've never been to the suburbs... we don't mess around in da burbs.. we'll stab someone for not maintain' their yard. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 22:22, 23 July 2007 (EDT)
What 'choo say homeboy? I lived on my wits for four years on the mean streets of Scarsdale, where the PTA, the Rotaries and the Lions battled it out. It was brutal, I tell you... especially when Bed, Bath and Beyond had a clearance sale on Martha Stewart quilts... <shudders> Jpatokal 23:03, 23 July 2007 (EDT)

Missing "See" section

Is there any reason why the US is lacking a "See" section? There are some cross-regional itineraries that definitely belong on this page IMHO:

--Peter Talk 10:57, 22 August 2007 (EDT)

So, should I add the See+Itinerary section? --Peter Talk 20:39, 23 August 2007 (EDT)
Yes! Gorilla Jones 20:58, 23 August 2007 (EDT)


Going to U.S.A for 2 months.

Do you need to apply Visa or not if you're staying for 2 months in the states? I'm from Australia btw. Thanks

Good question. No, you don't need a visa for stays of up to 90 days, and I've added this to the article. Jpatokal 06:46, 13 September 2007 (EDT)

"Culture" and "Respect" getting too long

These two sections are getting to long. One person attempted to pare down "Culture" a bit but was reverted. I'm therefore going to discuss here before making changes. But as I see it, the sections need to focus on specific factual, useful things that a normal traveller might need to know about American culture and how to show proper respect while in America. That's what we see in most other destination's sections. This article is getting full of wishy-washy language and "on the other hand" type statements. Any ideas on how to pare it down and make it more useful? SONORAMA 18:44, 15 November 2007 (EST)

Agree. That whole para starting with "Conversely," can go. And what's that 'touching' thing all about. Why would we need to tell a visitor not to touch other people? The things about race, nudity, smoking, and Sept. 11 make sense to me. Touching, criticizing the country you're visiting, etc. are common-sense things applicable everywhere (would one be critical of France with an unknown Frenchman in Paris?).--Wandering 18:58, 15 November 2007 (EST)
Alright - I cut the section WAY down, and changed to a bullet-point format. Bullets are used in a lot of other destinations' respect sections, and help keep us editors focused on concise, specific information. Although I probably cut out 95% of the text, I kept each of the key points - reducing a paragraph or two of wishy-wash to a specific point. That said, I'm perfectly cool to people adding additional bullet points.
Love it! You've kept the essence and made it to the point!--Wandering 17:08, 16 November 2007 (EST)
The issue of personal space and touching is not common sense. It's something that varies from one culture to another, and the fact that you consider it "common sense" simply reflects that you're a native to this one. - Todd VerBeek 11:44, 8 December 2007 (EST)

Religion

I'm reverting an edit made to add a "religion" section under the "Culture" heading. To be clear, I don't have a problem with an article addressing religion, but only in a way that would be specifically related to travel. For example: Specific information for someone undertaking a religious history tour, or a how-to for someone wishing to experience a particular religious tradition. What I don't like, particularly in the already long United State article, are the kind of banal, generalized statements like "there's a lot of religions in America, some get extreme, you might want to avoid discussing religion with a new aquaintance." That kind of "advice" is mostly common sense that could apply to a lot of places. SONORAMA 20:55, 7 December 2007 (EST)

I feel that the article is lacking mention of the fact that freedom of religious choices is granted to its citizens here in the USA. In some coutries where visitors commonly come from to visit here, and read Wikitravel, there is no choice. You are either xyz or maybe dead. I feel that the article is lacking in not somehow mentioning the reason that visitors like those who showed up on the Mayflower were looking for and found religious freedom, not available in their place of origin. If it were common sense as you state, we would not have any threat from suicide bombers, who for the promise of 97 virgins and a place in heaven kill innocent children. This was not meant as a political essay, but an attempt to mention the differences in cultures. I guess wikitravel, is not ready for the Religion word yet. I think it is sad that the word is now treated as being scary, or taboo in our culture. Sorry, if I offended you. 2old 10:03, 8 December 2007 (EST)
No one's trying to ban mention of religion here, just questioning how relevant the particular information is to the modern traveler. - Todd VerBeek 11:56, 8 December 2007 (EST)

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