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Wikitravel:Geographical data and metadata

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This article is about incorporating geographical data and metadata into Wikitravel.

What is geographical data?[edit]

Geographical data, for this discussion, is information about the latitude and longitude of something on the face of planet Earth. Given a latitude and longitude pair of sufficient precision, a more-or-less exact spot on Earth can be determined.

What is geographical metadata?[edit]

Metadata is data about other data. For Wikitravel, it means adding information about a page or the subject of that page.

There's an informal standard for representing geographical metadata in HTML pages, using the <meta> HTML tag. A metatag for latitude and longitude looks like this:

Proposed by GeoURL

<meta name="ICBM" content="latitude, longitude">

The "ICBM" name comes from an old Internet joke that a lat-long pair is an "ICBM address", that is, how you would send an intercontinental ballistic missile somewhere.


or Proposed by geotags

<meta name="geo.position" content="latitude; longitude">
<meta name="geo.placename" content="Human Readable Placename">
<meta name="geo.region" content="Country Code as in ISO-3166-2">

It's unstated whether the ICBM address or geo.position refers to where the Web server is located, where the author of the page is located, or where the subject of the Web page is located. The same tag is used for all these purposes.

Geographical metadata on the Web[edit]

Some Web sites use geographical metadata to cluster Web pages according to their geographical metadata. A prominent one is GeoURL. And there are Web sites that help you to create these metadata online. One is Geo-Tag.de.

Uses for Wikitravel[edit]

A few possible uses for geographical metadata exist in Wikitravel.

  1. Giving the location of a city discussed in a city guide. Using a tool like GeoURL, a reader on the Web could find other Web pages related to the city.
  2. Giving the location of attractions (restaurants, bars, hotels, etc.). This would make it easier for someone with a GPS device -- a tool to determine one's exact latitude and longitude using information from satellites -- to find their way to attractions.
  3. Augmenting Wikitravel maps. It might be possible to use geographical data to place attractions, cities, or regions on maps automatically.

Reservations[edit]

Although this is all pretty nifty stuff, there's some question as to the utility of geographical data and metadata.

  • GeoURL and other metadata aggregators are kinda great for Web usage, but it doesn't do much for printed guides (and printable guides are part of our goals).
  • GPS info for attractions is also useful for those people who have GPS tools. For those who don't, a lot of extraneous numbers are going to clutter up a guide pretty quickly.
  • It's questionable whether GPS information for an attraction is better than the street address and additional directions, as we use now in restaurant listings, attraction listings, and the like.

Adding geographical metadata[edit]

The software we use, MediaWiki, doesn't support adding free-form metadata to articles. There's a proposal for adding some metadata to articles in the next release. This is probably the best bet for getting ICBM meta tags added to articles.

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