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Difference between revisions of "Wikitravel talk:Business listings reliability Expedition"

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(Who posted the listing)
(what will make us more reliable than Tripadvisor etc ratings?)
 
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== Too harsh? ==
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{{swept}}
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I was a bit surprised to see [http://wikitravel.org/wiki/en/index.php?title=User_talk:Visitloraincounty&curid=78289&diff=1715164&oldid=1714716#Lorain_County this response] to my queries.  Was I too hard on a new contributor?  (See also my comment on a different page, [http://wikitravel.org/wiki/en/index.php?title=Talk:Lorain_County&diff=1714775&oldid=1714735 here].  I don't want to drive new users away.  [[User:LtPowers|LtPowers]] 13:58, 15 July 2011 (EDT)
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: Patrolling edits and trying to work with users who ignore edit summaries, [[:Template:Style]] tags, and user talk page messages is something that tries everyone's patience, so while your comments did seem a bit harsh to me (example: "All right, VLC, it's time to stop editing and start responding"), they're also very understandable.  I think the larger issues to be dealt with here are 1) how can we make it easier for users to contribute ''constructively'' and 2) how can we increase the pool of patrollers and editors in order to make it less tedious/frustrating for the small group of people who currently do that job.  Sadly, while I think a lot of people probably have some good ideas on both of these issues, to get anything significant done will likely take someone who knows the site and community well and is willing to spearhead an effort to make possibly major and contentious changes, and I'm not sure if anyone currently has the stomach and willpower to push such an effort. -- [[User:Wrh2|Ryan]] • ([[User talk:Wrh2|talk]]) • 14:48, 15 July 2011 (EDT)
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::Now I'm curious—what are you thinking of, Ryan?  --[[User:Peterfitzgerald|Peter]] <small><sup>[[User_talk:Peterfitzgerald|Talk]]</sup></small> 23:00, 15 July 2011 (EDT)
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::: Off the top of my head, here are a few items that would be great to open up to greater scrutiny, but it's tough to imagine any of them getting very far without someone devoting a huge amount of thought and patience to seeing through:
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:::# I think a majority of our documentation / policy pages are in need of refactoring and consolidation.  Many long-time users have difficulty finding basic guidelines, the naming is often counter-intuitive, we combine "howto" pages with policy pages (example: [[Wikitravel:External links]] has both guidance on formatting and policies about what is appropriate).  My girlfriend has commented on several occasions that she is "scared" to contribute here, which (to me) means the messaging and guidance provided is insufficient.  The efforts at categorizing existing documentation was a minimal start in the right direction, but much, much more is needed and it will take a huge effort from knowledgeable contributors to get anything done.
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:::# Beyond the occasional talk page welcome message and rare barnstars we aren't doing much to build community.  As a result, it seems like many contributors show up for a day and then lose interest due to a lack of a sense that their contributions are valuable.
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:::# IB is an impediment - as an example, upgrading Mediawiki would give us improved talk page notifications, and fixing cache issues and listing editor problems would be a huge help for new users.  Even enabling simple things like CAPTCHA on shared: would be huge, but the process of getting them to do so is more painful than minor surgery.
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:::# Integration with shared: and other language versions is clunky at best, and it seems that most regulars contributors review shared: intermittently, if at all.  I don't know what the solution to this issue would be, but it's a shame that the language versions really don't work together more.
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:::# The current "consensus-building" process is daunting for anyone new as well as many longtime users and generally leads to frustration due to the massive status-quo bias - back in the day at least [[User:Evan|Evan]] could sort of play the benevolent dictator role, but since his departure it's often very difficult for someone to declare "OK, we've discussed this enough, and there seems to be enough agreement on X to do Y".  As a result, we've got dozens if not hundreds of suggestions that lead absolutely nowhere, despite days or weeks of discussion.  Even VFDs tend to drag on for months, which goes to show that something is out-of-whack.
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:::# The organizational structure/region templates could use some revisiting.  We do a decent job at the country and city level, but with a few rare exceptions we do a very poor job on mid-level regions and on guiding users down the hierarchy in a useful way.
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::: The list goes on, and I'm sure others have many more areas of concern, but it would be a significant amount of work to address any one of these points, particularly without support on the software side from IB.  Getting back to the original point, I think LtPowers was justified in getting frustrated, but the current structure and setup of the site doesn't lend itself well to new users like [[Special:Contributions/Visitloraincounty|Visitloraincounty]] who have good local knowledge but poor knowledge of Wikitravel. -- [[User:Wrh2|Ryan]] &bull; ([[User talk:Wrh2|talk]]) &bull; 00:54, 16 July 2011 (EDT)
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=== businesses self-adding listings ===
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(unindent) Very much agree with Ryan on #5, take "should we allow businesses to self-add listings" as one of the examples that we can't agree even on fundamental principles of this project. --[[User:DenisYurkin|DenisYurkin]] 05:12, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
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:Should we discuss this here? Because businesses self-add listings, I would never trust hotel listings. I would also be a bit skeptical of restaurant listings in Wikitravel for two reasons - touting and differences in taste (witness the chains people list in some American towns where there are other, good eateries). I would at least cross-check the listed establishments at websites that have non-self-interested posters with track records or/and rating systems (e.g., for food, websites like Chowhound for certain areas and perhaps Tripadvisor for hotels).
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:But I think it will be essentially impossible for us to prevent all listings from being added by businesses, so the best we are likely to do is draw a hard line on touting, which also has the salutary effect of tending to cause inveterate touters to either give up or eventually be blocked or blacklisted. But while all the detouting and reverting we do does some good, I don't think it makes this site reliable, and I see that as a major problem with this whole project. [[User:Ikan Kekek|Ikan Kekek]] 05:33, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
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::I believe that the original point of allowing businesses to self-add listings was that nobody else bothered, and you can't have a travel guide without places to stay and eat. Wikitravel was never intended to be a review site like Trip Advisor (which has serious issues of its own) for example. --[[User:Burmesedays|Burmesedays]] 05:44, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
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:::That's somewhat true for hotels, less so for restaurants (I added a bunch of listings in various New York City guides, from my perspective as a diner). But let me ask you: Would you consider such listings reliable, if you were consulting a Wikitravel guide for a place you haven't been to yet? I wouldn't and would tell any friend of mine in particular to ignore hotel listings on Wikitravel almost entirely. [[User:Ikan Kekek|Ikan Kekek]] 05:51, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
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::::Good God no! Of course I would not :) - with, it must be said, the ''very'' notable exceptions of certain articles here which are run as personal fiefdoms.  Like I said WT was never intended to be a hotel review site. What WT is very good at is organisational stuff, activities and attractions. To be frank, no travel guides I have ever used are much cop at hotels. --[[User:Burmesedays|Burmesedays]] 06:36, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
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I always believed Wikitravel should be ''ultimately better'' than TripAdvisor in reliably recommending the best restaurant and hotels. Among other things, TripAdvisor forces a reader to read too much reviews per hotel/restaurant while we can summarize what's most important for making choice in a single paragraph.
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As for "you won't rely on Wikitravel listing except when created by myself"--maybe we simply don't try hard enough to make Wikitravel listings trustworthy--but we should actually? --[[User:DenisYurkin|DenisYurkin]] 06:51, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
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:I think we do try, but I know that I lack enough information to edit the content of most hotel listings knowledgeably and haven't traveled to enough places to know all the listed restaurants. My feeling is that a large majority of the hotel listings were inserted by self-interested people, and probably a majority of the "Eat" and "Drink" listings, overall on this site, are as well. I would also delete some restaurant listings based on my own taste if I didn't feel that would violate the spirit of this guide. Caveat emptor! [[User:Ikan Kekek|Ikan Kekek]] 15:50, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
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:: We can't always blame the touts. Anyone who goes to the trouble of writing a listing is undoubtedly "self-interested". Ordinary travellers who want to tell the world about their favourite restaurant or hotel tend to do so with a gushing positivity that generally comes out as fluffy marketing copy (or perhaps worse still, in the style of printed travel guides). People just write that way because they dont know any better. Most people are bad at being unbiased, particularly when they are only considering the single ''best in town, affordable, must try!!'' restaurant or hotel they remember from their travels. Are we expecting too much by wanting fair and informative writing from the casual contributor? Are the "50 rooms with aircon and pool. Close to attractions" one line listings any more or less useful than promotional guff? - [[User:Cardboardbird|Cardboardbird]] 21:13, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
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:::When have we ever asked for ''unbiased'' writing?  We ask writers to [[Wikitravel:Be fair|be fair]], not be neutral.  [[User:LtPowers|LtPowers]] 21:45, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
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:::: I didn't think we did and I don't think I suggested that we did either. The crux of the arguments being made here is that many (most?) listings are perceived as untrustworthy because they were written by people who have a self interest in promoting that business (owners and customers alike). Matters of personal taste aside, what one sees as ''lively writing'' another takes as ''unreliable''. It's rare to see a listing that is indeed, 'fair'. - [[User:Cardboardbird|Cardboardbird]] 22:20, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
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:::::On the bright side, new (not self-interested) people might be more likely to remove or correct an (originally self-interested) listing, than to add a whole new one. I don't trust any listings fully, also in printed guides, but I love to use them as a starting point and many people do. As far as taste goes, I totally prefer the "printed travel guide style" (I'm thinking LP) over "50 rooms with aircon and pool. Close to attractions". =) [[User:Justme|Justme]] 04:37, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
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OK, let's start with a simple thing. Is there consensus that for every destination we should aim to list only restaurants and hotels which are the best for a traveller; this is what star acticles should only list in Sleep/Eat; our listings ultimately should be reliable and trustworthy; and we do bother to achieve that whenever possible?
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Criteria of what is best, how to select them and how to describe hotels & restaurants to be discussed later. --[[User:DenisYurkin|DenisYurkin]] 15:43, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
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:I do not agree with those terms; as described at [[Wikitravel:Avoid negative reviews]], sometimes it is actually desirable to list a non-recommended establishment.  [[User:LtPowers|LtPowers]] 19:08, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
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:: Of course with the exception of what recommended to list per [[Wikitravel:Avoid negative reviews]] and other policies (are there any other actually?). Now you agree? --[[User:DenisYurkin|DenisYurkin]] 03:24, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
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:::That basically makes sense to me, and I thought that ultimate goal /was/ the consensus & policy :-) "The best" being a broad concept though, sometimes restaurants that aren't "very good" or are overpriced can be an addition still because they provide diversity in choice or a very convenient location. But that seems obvious. In small towns with few options I'd prefer to have /all/ listed with a short text of what to expect, rather than having only the 2 or 3 "best" options in the article. [[User:Justme|Justme]] 07:10, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
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::::I suppose with those caveats, the statements are trivially true.  [[User:LtPowers|LtPowers]] 10:55, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
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: If there are enough people interested in this issue then it might make sense to start a "Reliability expedition" whose goal it would be to brainstorm and implement ways to make Wikitravel listings more reliable.  I don't think a prohibition on allowing businesses to list themselves on this site would be feasible, but perhaps something like a small icon that could be added by selected users to listings indicating "recommended/verified by X, Y and Z", thus providing some of the transparency of rating sites in a wiki-friendly format.  Whatever the eventual solution, an expedition might be the best way to discuss options and test out ideas without having the drawn-out process of attempting to change the fundamental openness of Wikitravel to all contributors. -- [[User:Wrh2|Ryan]] &bull; ([[User talk:Wrh2|talk]]) &bull; 11:24, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
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:: Ryan, just to better understand your point: how organizing an expedition can have an added value over a simple discussion thread, here in the Pub or in, let's say, [[Wikitravel talk:Welcome, business owners#more on adding by business owners|Wikitravel talk:Don't tout]]? --[[User:DenisYurkin|DenisYurkin]] 16:54, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
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::: I guess it goes back to the point (far) above about how difficult it is to achieve consensus.  I don't think a discussion on disallowing listings from business owners will ever get to a result that changes the status quo, but there might be more success with an expedition whose goal is to come up with ways to make listings on Wikitravel more reliable.  An expedition would have the advantage of having a group of people interested in the issue and focused on a specific goal, and would also have a bit more leeway to experiment with potential solutions.  As it is, we have yet another good discussion that seems to be meandering around without any clear direction or potential solution, whereas a more focused expedition might be more productive. -- [[User:Wrh2|Ryan]] &bull; ([[User talk:Wrh2|talk]]) &bull; 17:57, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
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:::: OK, who else would be interested to be part of such a "reliability expedition" (or, maybe more general, on improving reliability ''and quality of selection'' of our eat & sleep listings)? --[[User:DenisYurkin|DenisYurkin]] 14:25, 10 August 2011 (EDT)
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:::::I would be, sounds like a good idea. --[[User:Globe-trotter|globe-trotter]] 14:45, 10 August 2011 (EDT)
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:::::: I would also be willing to help get this going. -- [[User:Wrh2|Ryan]] &bull; ([[User talk:Wrh2|talk]]) &bull; 16:48, 10 August 2011 (EDT)
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:::::::Me 4, this sounds like an excellent idea.  --[[User:Peterfitzgerald|Peter]] <small><sup>[[User_talk:Peterfitzgerald|Talk]]</sup></small> 19:14, 10 August 2011 (EDT)
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Made a smallest first step possible :-), here it is: [[Wikitravel:Business listings reliability Expedition]]. Please plunge forward in clarifying its goals and anything else. I never started an expedition, and a bit depressed by a blank paper syndrome about it. --[[User:DenisYurkin|DenisYurkin]] 19:09, 24 August 2011 (EDT)
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== Starting out ==
 
== Starting out ==
  
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::: I was envisioning this less as "endorsed" as in "this is the best" and more as "the people or person shown in the alt tag have verified that this listing is accurate as of the dates shown".  I think it would be undesirable to have to try to come to a consensus on a single choice for any given article, although if ten people choose to "verify" a listing then it might be a good indication that it's a place worth visiting.  Obviously some criteria would be needed as to who can "verify" a listing (must have been active for X months, have a user page, etc?) but that's probably a topic for discussion once the goals of this tool are established. -- [[User:Wrh2|Ryan]] &bull; ([[User talk:Wrh2|talk]]) &bull; 16:12, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
 
::: I was envisioning this less as "endorsed" as in "this is the best" and more as "the people or person shown in the alt tag have verified that this listing is accurate as of the dates shown".  I think it would be undesirable to have to try to come to a consensus on a single choice for any given article, although if ten people choose to "verify" a listing then it might be a good indication that it's a place worth visiting.  Obviously some criteria would be needed as to who can "verify" a listing (must have been active for X months, have a user page, etc?) but that's probably a topic for discussion once the goals of this tool are established. -- [[User:Wrh2|Ryan]] &bull; ([[User talk:Wrh2|talk]]) &bull; 16:12, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
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(Re-indenting) To summarize where this discussion stands so far, there seem to be three proposals:
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# Create some sort of "verified"/"endorsed"/"approved" icon for listings.
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# Expand the use of title icons to include things like usable/guide status.  I'd also think docents, Wikitravel Press books, and other indicators of quality articles might be good icon candidates.
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# A ''small'' template that we could place either in a section, such as "sleep", or even at the top of the article (ideally in the header) that would show the article was reviewed and deemed reliable, and would show who reviewed it and when, could be very useful as well.
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Any other suggestions?  Is there enough interest to start figuring out details of the above three and to then see if there is enough support to actually start moving ahead with them? -- [[User:Wrh2|Ryan]] &bull; ([[User talk:Wrh2|talk]]) &bull; 20:35, 29 August 2011 (EDT)
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:I think the list of three all have merit and are worth developing. For the listing icon, I would greatly prefer a verified category rather than trying to highlight the best. The latter is extremely subjective, the former is more of fact/quality check.
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:I really like the third idea. For example,  recently I was delighted to hear that first time visitor to [[Nusa Lembongan]] used our guide and nothing else. Last year I had similar feedback about [[East Bali]] and its sub-articles.  That's extremely encouraging for a writer as well as providing credibility for future users.--[[User:Burmesedays|burmesedays]] 09:13, 30 August 2011 (EDT)
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:On #1, I would clarify: in addition to "added by X" we need "this listing [originally added by X] was verified by Y on date Z"
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:And one more suggestion--hopefully won't duplicate anything from the above.
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:4. What if we mark listings with "originally seemed to be added by business" and "originally seemed to be added by client"? Make no discrimination for some time, only to track how each type of source correlate with endorsements and non/validation later. For the cleaner experiment, we can even make no visual distinction--just add a template that expands into nothing when reading--but can only found when editing/diffing?
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:--[[User:DenisYurkin|DenisYurkin]] 15:40, 31 August 2011 (EDT)
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:: I've added sub-sections below for discussion each of the three items mentioned above.  I'm a little concerned about the "originally added by business" idea as that seems subjective - per Ikan's comment below, we already remove or de-tout anything that is overt advertising, so further trying to discern whether someone is a real user or a business trying to be sneaky might be difficult to do with any accuracy.  For the "originally added by X", that's available in the article history - my hope would be that the "approved" icon would make it irrelevant who originally added the listing since we would now have other users giving their seal of approval. -- [[User:Wrh2|Ryan]] &bull; ([[User talk:Wrh2|talk]]) &bull; 13:13, 4 September 2011 (EDT)
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::: *Bump* While discussions of ashrams and DotM templates are obviously grabbing the most attention right now, comments and suggestions for moving this expedition forward would still be greatly appreciated. -- [[User:Wrh2|Ryan]] &bull; ([[User talk:Wrh2|talk]]) &bull; 22:05, 13 September 2011 (EDT)
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=== Approved icons ===
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Following up from the above discussions, here are some issues that I think need to be resolved in order to move ahead with the above approved/endorsed template:
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# Are we communicating that the users adding their names in this template have verified that the information in the listing is accurate, or that they are additionally saying that the information is accurate and they would recommend the business?
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# What are the criteria for endorsing/approving a listing, and how is that enforced?
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# What are the technical issues - icon, template, etc?
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Regarding #1, I would suggest it means that the information is accurate and the person(s) listed would recommend the place.
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Regarding #2, I would suggest the following:
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* Multiple listings can be approved - trying to choose just one or two would be really difficult.
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* Create a "Wikitravel:Approvers" (someone please come up with a better name) page that describes what it means for a listing to be "approved" and includes criteria such as registered user, will not approve a business that you own or work for, will not approve more than X listings per article section, where I'd suggest "X" is 2-3.  The user should then add their signature to the bottom of the page.  This ensures that users have read the guidelines, but is a fairly low barrier to entry for new users.
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* We include a comment with the "approved" template within listings such as <nowiki><!-- please read http://wikitravel.org/en/Wikitravel:Approvers before approving a listing --></nowiki>.
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* Any "approval" that is over two years old should be removed.  Users are welcome to update the "approval" date yearly if they so choose.
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* If a listing changes significantly - for example "under new ownership", etc - all approvals should be removed.
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* It might make sense to limit the number of approvals for any given business to 5 to avoid having things get out of hand.  If someone else wants to "approve" a business with five approvals then they should remove the oldest one first.
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Regarding #3, a "checkmark" icon has been suggested, and I might propose that we come up with a few versions that could reflect how many people "approved" an entry (1-2, 3-4, 5, etc).  The template can be an inclusion in a listing tag of the form <nowiki><!-- please read http://wikitravel.org/en/Wikitravel:Approvers before approving a listing -->{{approved|User:Wrh2, 4-Sep-2011|User:Shiz, 3-Aug-2011}}</nowiki>.
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Hopefully that's enough to get the discussion moving along... -- [[User:Wrh2|Ryan]] &bull; ([[User talk:Wrh2|talk]]) &bull; 13:13, 4 September 2011 (EDT)
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:While i general I agree with your proposals, I'm not sure if a Wikitravel:Approvers would be a good idea. I think it's a high barrier of entry for new users who just want to quickly approve a listing. I'd say just having a certain amount of edits (like 10 or 20) should be sufficient. I even hope in the future we'd have a technical solution so that a user can approve a listing with just one or two mouse clicks. Also, what listings are we talking about here? It seems mostly applicable to Sleep listings, but what about restaurants, bars and nightclubs? --[[User:Globe-trotter|globe-trotter]] 07:44, 14 September 2011 (EDT)
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:: My thought with the "approvers" page was just as a way to address concerns mentioned by others about gaming the system, but I'm open to any solution.  As to what sort of listings, I would imagine anything that uses a listing tag could be a target for this icon, but I think initially that sleep, eat and drink listings should be the focus.  And I very much agree that in a perfect world this would be part of the listing editor, although I don't hold out much hope of IB making that happen. -- [[User:Wrh2|Ryan]] &bull; ([[User talk:Wrh2|talk]]) &bull; 11:02, 14 September 2011 (EDT)
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:::Might I plug the "reviewers" label instead of approvers? I don't like the idea of the need for all listings to be approved, as that gives the impression that "superuser" opinions are necessary to allow a listing. What's really important is that someone has checked the listing to make sure that everything is factual, up to date, and in clean order—in short, reviewed.  --[[User:Peterfitzgerald|Peter]] <small><sup>[[User_talk:Peterfitzgerald|Talk]]</sup></small> 17:31, 14 September 2011 (EDT)
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:::: I'm fine with "reviewer", but I'd suggest that for individual listings this tag also be used to (in a sense) endorse a business as in "this information is accurate and I would recommend it", which would introduce a way of demonstrating what are subjectively favorite businesses.  The "reviewed" template suggestion below could then be used solely for indicating that an entire section contains factually accurate listing info. -- [[User:Wrh2|Ryan]] &bull; ([[User talk:Wrh2|talk]]) &bull; 20:48, 14 September 2011 (EDT)
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:::::Ah sorry, I was confused—mixing up the two suggestions. Please disregard my last comment.  --[[User:Peterfitzgerald|Peter]] <small><sup>[[User_talk:Peterfitzgerald|Talk]]</sup></small> 22:23, 14 September 2011 (EDT)
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On Approvers/Validators idea, reading on something similar [http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/rii/index.shtml here] and remembering how Michelin Guide system of inspection works, I'm afraid we should have a closed-membership "club" of contributors eligible to "approve", where new members can join only when someone from existing members recommends him (basing on history of contributions, i.e. not necessarily to know him personally in real life). Otherwise the system can be gamed easily: business owner publishes recommendation, registers a fake user account, waits until account is eligible and "approves"/validates his own listing.
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In other words, there should be some reliable evidence that a user allowed to validate is a traveller, and mostly interested in helping fellow travellers -- rather than a business owner/affiliate and/or interested in promoting businesses more than in helping travellers. Either one of the "club members" knows him personally--or his history of edits clearly indicates that interest. --[[User:DenisYurkin|DenisYurkin]] 18:42, 24 September 2011 (EDT)
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: While I'd like to see some minimum requirements for allowing a user to approve/validate listings, I think ideally we should set that bar as low as possible (at least initially) to encourage people to participate.  I don't think we can ever 100% ensure that people won't try to game the system, but it might be sufficient to just ask users to sign a page indicating that they agree to the approver/validator guidelines if those guidelines include comments to the effect that gaming the system will result in removal of listings.  That said, I've traditionally been on the side of being more inclusive of business owners, so additional opinions would be valuable. -- [[User:Wrh2|Ryan]] &bull; ([[User talk:Wrh2|talk]]) &bull; 21:42, 25 September 2011 (EDT)
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::Judging by more popular review sites, banning for such cheat quickly leads to blackmail: to remove a competitor from WT for long, just perform such a fake validation for a competitors listing. --[[User:DenisYurkin|DenisYurkin]] 15:24, 27 September 2011 (EDT)
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=== Title icons ===
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Some ideas for expanding use of title icons:
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* Add an icon for articles with [[Wikitravel:Docents|docents]].  Currently the left-nav link is more-or-less invisible.
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* Add an icon for guide articles.
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* I'd also suggest tweaking the display slightly to make the icons more eye-catching - suggestions for doing so are welcome.
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* Re-work [[:Template:Title-icons]] to make it more flexible, so for example [[:Template:Startopic]] could automatically add the icon without the need for an additional <nowiki>{{title-icons|star-icon}}</nowiki>.
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Additional ideas/comments? -- [[User:Wrh2|Ryan]] &bull; ([[User talk:Wrh2|talk]]) &bull; 13:13, 4 September 2011 (EDT)
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=== Reviewed templates ===
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Per Peter's comment above, it would be helpful to have a unobtrusive template that could be added to article sections or full articles indicating when the article/section was last reviewed for accuracy, and who did so.  Currently articles that are used for Wikitravel Press books get reviewed fairly often, but a user reading the article would have no idea that an extensive review had been recently done.  The issues to resolve with such a template are similar to those for the approved icon:
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# What does this template mean?  This template should indicate that someone verified every phone number, URL, price, description, etc for a section?  That all listed businesses are still open?  Something else?
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# What are the criteria for users to use this template, and how is that enforced?
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# What are the technical issues?  What does the template look like?
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For #1, those who review articles for Wikitravel Press are probably best qualified to say what their current criteria are and we can then build from there.
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For #2, I'd suggest something similar to the Wikitravel:Approvers process, where we have a page that outlines requirements and ask people to sign it before using this template.  What those requirements are is up for discussion.
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For #3, I'm sure there are lots of suggestions :)
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-- [[User:Wrh2|Ryan]] &bull; ([[User talk:Wrh2|talk]]) &bull; 13:13, 4 September 2011 (EDT)
  
 
==Who posted the listing==
 
==Who posted the listing==
  
 
I would like to argue that any listing using "we" or "our" should be not edited but summarily deleted, as obviously self-interested and, therefore, unreliable. Like any other rule, this would be subject to exceptions on a case-by-case basis, but I think that whenever it's obvious a listing was posted by a self-interested person, whether because it's 100% obvious it's touting ("well-appointed rooms," et al.) or because "we" or "our" was used, unless other, non-interested people can vouch for the place, it should not be listed - and I mean probably never listed. [[User:Ikan Kekek|Ikan Kekek]] 23:05, 24 August 2011 (EDT)
 
I would like to argue that any listing using "we" or "our" should be not edited but summarily deleted, as obviously self-interested and, therefore, unreliable. Like any other rule, this would be subject to exceptions on a case-by-case basis, but I think that whenever it's obvious a listing was posted by a self-interested person, whether because it's 100% obvious it's touting ("well-appointed rooms," et al.) or because "we" or "our" was used, unless other, non-interested people can vouch for the place, it should not be listed - and I mean probably never listed. [[User:Ikan Kekek|Ikan Kekek]] 23:05, 24 August 2011 (EDT)
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::What's wrong reliability-wise in a listing saying "We had a dinner here and liked is so much that returned here twice during our week-long stay. We definitely enjoyed their T-bone steaks and cheesecakes."? Yes, we should edit first-person pronouns, but otherwise it's very likely a first-hand real-experience reviews--the only better thing in terms of customer-experience reliability could be only a summary of several real-experience first-hand reviews. Why remove them altogether? --[[User:DenisYurkin|DenisYurkin]] 17:20, 30 August 2011 (EDT)
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 +
:::You misunderstand. I'm talking about "We offer luxurious, well-appointed rooms," not "We had a great dinner" or "We liked this hotel." [[User:Ikan Kekek|Ikan Kekek]] 17:54, 30 August 2011 (EDT)
  
 
:I think it's fine to remove listings for this reason, but it should also be just as OK to keep it after detouting. While touts do come across as infuriating little dissemblers, most are just totally clueless. The owner of the Welcome Manor Inn in [[Chicago#Bronzeville#Mid-range_2|Bronzeville]] is a really cool guy who runs a great business. The listing he originally added, though, looked like this [http://wikitravel.org/wiki/en/index.php?title=Chicago%2FBronzeville&diff=1537776&oldid=1535907]—it now looks like one of the better listings in the article.  --[[User:Peterfitzgerald|Peter]] <small><sup>[[User_talk:Peterfitzgerald|Talk]]</sup></small> 16:29, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
 
:I think it's fine to remove listings for this reason, but it should also be just as OK to keep it after detouting. While touts do come across as infuriating little dissemblers, most are just totally clueless. The owner of the Welcome Manor Inn in [[Chicago#Bronzeville#Mid-range_2|Bronzeville]] is a really cool guy who runs a great business. The listing he originally added, though, looked like this [http://wikitravel.org/wiki/en/index.php?title=Chicago%2FBronzeville&diff=1537776&oldid=1535907]—it now looks like one of the better listings in the article.  --[[User:Peterfitzgerald|Peter]] <small><sup>[[User_talk:Peterfitzgerald|Talk]]</sup></small> 16:29, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
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 +
:::''now looks like one of the better listings in the article''
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:::You mean "one of the best-written" rather than "I tried many alternatives in the area, and this hotel is definitely the best in its price range", right? --[[User:DenisYurkin|DenisYurkin]] 17:20, 30 August 2011 (EDT)
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::: I mean, there are quality of services and quality of description. In my belief, we should focus on former here--and only after succeeding with that, aim on the latter. --[[User:DenisYurkin|DenisYurkin]] 15:30, 31 August 2011 (EDT)
  
 
::I even think business owners placing their own businesses are an asset to Wikitravel. I get plenty of spammy/touty hotel listings in the Bangkok district pages, but after de-touting they make fine additions to the articles. I don't see why we should delete these listings while they are useful additions in general. --[[User:Globe-trotter|globe-trotter]] 23:56, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
 
::I even think business owners placing their own businesses are an asset to Wikitravel. I get plenty of spammy/touty hotel listings in the Bangkok district pages, but after de-touting they make fine additions to the articles. I don't see why we should delete these listings while they are useful additions in general. --[[User:Globe-trotter|globe-trotter]] 23:56, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
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::So what is this expedition about? Purely reliability of contact information and pricing, not descriptions in any sense? If so, is there very much to discuss? [[User:Ikan Kekek|Ikan Kekek]] 04:10, 27 August 2011 (EDT)
 
::So what is this expedition about? Purely reliability of contact information and pricing, not descriptions in any sense? If so, is there very much to discuss? [[User:Ikan Kekek|Ikan Kekek]] 04:10, 27 August 2011 (EDT)
  
:::A tiny percentage of business listings could be verified in the manner Ryan proposes I guess. However, there is no site-wide solution I can think of other than attempting to ban a business listing made anyone with an interest in that business. Aside from the impossibility of policing that, there will never be consensus reached for such a draconian action. --[[User:Burmesedays|burmesedays]] 04:29, 27 August 2011 (EDT)
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:::A tiny percentage of business listings could be verified in the manner Ryan proposes I guess. However, there is no site-wide solution I can think of other than attempting to ban a business listing made by anyone with an interest in that business. Aside from the impossibility of policing that, there will never be consensus reached for such a draconian action. --[[User:Burmesedays|burmesedays]] 04:29, 27 August 2011 (EDT)
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::::So is your proposal to essentially give up, close the discussion, and go on to something else there's more consensus on? [[User:Ikan Kekek|Ikan Kekek]] 04:39, 27 August 2011 (EDT)
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::::: :=). Nope. I would be delighted if a practical solution was found.
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::::: Going back to your original suggestion about first person writing, it is already a reason for deletion which any editor has the discretion to enforce. I agree with Peter on that point.--[[User:Burmesedays|burmesedays]] 04:51, 27 August 2011 (EDT)
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::::::It seems like right now, the touting policy is enforced either by: (1) deleting the listing more or less for good and all, (2) detouting it, or (3) deleting it with instructions and a chance for the offender to detout the listing him-/herself; and that which of these three reactions is taken is purely at the discretion of the editor, with no general case on which of these approaches one would normally take. I, too, have varied between these different reactions, depending on how bad the touting was and how much time I felt like taking to edit someone else's touty listing. My proposal above, though, was to establish a rule that the general case would be to simply delete touty listings and keep them deleted, with the two other types of reactions I list above constituting exceptions to the rule.
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::::::Is this worth discussing? [[User:Ikan Kekek|Ikan Kekek]] 05:06, 27 August 2011 (EDT)
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: (Re-indenting) I'd suggest that we allow some discretion - if the person patrolling a listing thinks it is worth de-touting then they should be permitted to do so, as should someone who chooses to simply revert it.  If the listing is being deleted I would suggest a guideline that feedback is provided for the user in question, either via the edit summary ("please do not write promotional, first-person listings per [[Wikitravel:Don't tout]]") or a talk page message; repeat offenders could obviously be reverted without additional comment.  I don't disagree with Ikan that the reliability of a listing posted by a business owner is suspect, but it would be a shame to make Wikitravel even more anti-business since business owners can often make valuable contributions if properly motivated. -- [[User:Wrh2|Ryan]] &bull; ([[User talk:Wrh2|talk]]) &bull; 20:28, 29 August 2011 (EDT)
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::My actions are in fact along the lines you outline, but that's in keeping with policy here. If the policy were harsher, I would summarily delete and then not allow cleaned-up versions to be posted. [[User:Ikan Kekek|Ikan Kekek]] 06:20, 30 August 2011 (EDT)
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:::I'm in minority here, but I'm with you in proposing to remove business-added(?) reviews alltogether--rather than detout them. Because once we detout, we'll never know whether any single customer ever liked this place, or it's purely a product of its marketing. --[[User:DenisYurkin|DenisYurkin]] 17:23, 30 August 2011 (EDT)
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== what will make us more reliable than Tripadvisor etc ratings? ==
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I just realized that none from the above suggestions, even if successful, will make us more reliable or reputable than Tripadvisor's ratings on restaurants or hotels for a destination. And the truth is that I don't have any ideas how to change that. --[[User:DenisYurkin|DenisYurkin]] 16:33, 29 November 2011 (EST)
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: I still think the '''starred listings''' is a good one.
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:: A black star means this listing has been added or updated by an anonymous or single listing editor.
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:: A orange star means this listing has been added or updated by a business owner or their employee/agent - this listing is likely accurate but negative aspects are likely omitted.
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:: A green star means this listing has been added or updated by a registered wikitravel user of standing, who has contributed to various articles and edited listings of various types.
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: Of course many listings will remain unstarred, but a WT user can feel free to add the stars to their own or other listings as appropriate. --[[User:Inas|Inas]] 17:24, 29 November 2011 (EST)
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:: @[[User:Inas|Inas]] I like the idea behind the above, but wouldn't it be tough to implement?  We don't always know who a business owner is, and technically it might be difficult to change status based on how many contributions someone makes.  Is there any particular objection to just using a system where there is some very simple criteria as to who can "star" an icon (as discussed in the sections [[#Approved icons|above]]), and the color then just reflects how many people have starred the listing?
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:: @[[User:DenisYurkin|DenisYurkin]] While the ideal solution would be to exceed Tripadvisor, I think the initial goal is just to improve the reliability of the Wikitravel's content.  Baby steps :) -- [[User:Wrh2|Ryan]] &bull; ([[User talk:Wrh2|talk]]) &bull; 12:30, 4 December 2011 (EST)
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::: I think the tripadvisor comparison is a valid one.  I use tripadvisor for accommodation reviews all the time - I find them valuable.  As you know tripadvisor doesn't permit reviews by business owners, but they do allow their comments.  When evaluating whether to trust a review you can see how many of their other reviews were voted as helpful.  So, in other words you build up trust in the review by building up trust in the reviewer.  Frankly, to me if a review is written by a one time anonymous editor, or a business owner, it is completely and utterly worthless to me - I may was well search on booking.com or expedia.  However, a review by written by a regular WT contributor  - even if they were the only person to star it - would be most worthwhile.  It wouldn't be hard to award a green star to a user after a few contributions - they are then entitled to green star reviews they know are legitimate.  Similarly, we give an orange star to the IPs or accounts of business interests, which they can use or have assigned to their listings.  While we maintain the community policy of allowing vested interests to contribute, it seems only reasonable that we at least let people know that one review was written by a traveller telling it as it is, and the other was written by a person whose only interest is in the promotion of it.  --[[User:Inas|Inas]] 17:15, 4 December 2011 (EST)
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::::Your system sounds hard to implement I think. Wikitravel is an open collaboration site. A listing could be added by a business owner, edited by a Wikitravel veteran, then re-worded by an anonymous IP, after which another Wikitravel veteran fixes his grammar. It is impossible to judge who "added" most to this listing or gave most weight to its wording. --[[User:Globe-trotter|Globe-trotter]] 02:16, 22 January 2012 (EST)

Latest revision as of 07:20, 22 January 2012

Contents

Too harsh?[edit]

Swept in from the pub

I was a bit surprised to see this response to my queries. Was I too hard on a new contributor? (See also my comment on a different page, here. I don't want to drive new users away. LtPowers 13:58, 15 July 2011 (EDT)

Patrolling edits and trying to work with users who ignore edit summaries, Template:Style tags, and user talk page messages is something that tries everyone's patience, so while your comments did seem a bit harsh to me (example: "All right, VLC, it's time to stop editing and start responding"), they're also very understandable. I think the larger issues to be dealt with here are 1) how can we make it easier for users to contribute constructively and 2) how can we increase the pool of patrollers and editors in order to make it less tedious/frustrating for the small group of people who currently do that job. Sadly, while I think a lot of people probably have some good ideas on both of these issues, to get anything significant done will likely take someone who knows the site and community well and is willing to spearhead an effort to make possibly major and contentious changes, and I'm not sure if anyone currently has the stomach and willpower to push such an effort. -- Ryan • (talk) • 14:48, 15 July 2011 (EDT)
Now I'm curious—what are you thinking of, Ryan? --Peter Talk 23:00, 15 July 2011 (EDT)
Off the top of my head, here are a few items that would be great to open up to greater scrutiny, but it's tough to imagine any of them getting very far without someone devoting a huge amount of thought and patience to seeing through:
  1. I think a majority of our documentation / policy pages are in need of refactoring and consolidation. Many long-time users have difficulty finding basic guidelines, the naming is often counter-intuitive, we combine "howto" pages with policy pages (example: Wikitravel:External links has both guidance on formatting and policies about what is appropriate). My girlfriend has commented on several occasions that she is "scared" to contribute here, which (to me) means the messaging and guidance provided is insufficient. The efforts at categorizing existing documentation was a minimal start in the right direction, but much, much more is needed and it will take a huge effort from knowledgeable contributors to get anything done.
  2. Beyond the occasional talk page welcome message and rare barnstars we aren't doing much to build community. As a result, it seems like many contributors show up for a day and then lose interest due to a lack of a sense that their contributions are valuable.
  3. IB is an impediment - as an example, upgrading Mediawiki would give us improved talk page notifications, and fixing cache issues and listing editor problems would be a huge help for new users. Even enabling simple things like CAPTCHA on shared: would be huge, but the process of getting them to do so is more painful than minor surgery.
  4. Integration with shared: and other language versions is clunky at best, and it seems that most regulars contributors review shared: intermittently, if at all. I don't know what the solution to this issue would be, but it's a shame that the language versions really don't work together more.
  5. The current "consensus-building" process is daunting for anyone new as well as many longtime users and generally leads to frustration due to the massive status-quo bias - back in the day at least Evan could sort of play the benevolent dictator role, but since his departure it's often very difficult for someone to declare "OK, we've discussed this enough, and there seems to be enough agreement on X to do Y". As a result, we've got dozens if not hundreds of suggestions that lead absolutely nowhere, despite days or weeks of discussion. Even VFDs tend to drag on for months, which goes to show that something is out-of-whack.
  6. The organizational structure/region templates could use some revisiting. We do a decent job at the country and city level, but with a few rare exceptions we do a very poor job on mid-level regions and on guiding users down the hierarchy in a useful way.
The list goes on, and I'm sure others have many more areas of concern, but it would be a significant amount of work to address any one of these points, particularly without support on the software side from IB. Getting back to the original point, I think LtPowers was justified in getting frustrated, but the current structure and setup of the site doesn't lend itself well to new users like Visitloraincounty who have good local knowledge but poor knowledge of Wikitravel. -- Ryan • (talk) • 00:54, 16 July 2011 (EDT)

businesses self-adding listings[edit]

(unindent) Very much agree with Ryan on #5, take "should we allow businesses to self-add listings" as one of the examples that we can't agree even on fundamental principles of this project. --DenisYurkin 05:12, 7 August 2011 (EDT)

Should we discuss this here? Because businesses self-add listings, I would never trust hotel listings. I would also be a bit skeptical of restaurant listings in Wikitravel for two reasons - touting and differences in taste (witness the chains people list in some American towns where there are other, good eateries). I would at least cross-check the listed establishments at websites that have non-self-interested posters with track records or/and rating systems (e.g., for food, websites like Chowhound for certain areas and perhaps Tripadvisor for hotels).
But I think it will be essentially impossible for us to prevent all listings from being added by businesses, so the best we are likely to do is draw a hard line on touting, which also has the salutary effect of tending to cause inveterate touters to either give up or eventually be blocked or blacklisted. But while all the detouting and reverting we do does some good, I don't think it makes this site reliable, and I see that as a major problem with this whole project. Ikan Kekek 05:33, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
I believe that the original point of allowing businesses to self-add listings was that nobody else bothered, and you can't have a travel guide without places to stay and eat. Wikitravel was never intended to be a review site like Trip Advisor (which has serious issues of its own) for example. --Burmesedays 05:44, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
That's somewhat true for hotels, less so for restaurants (I added a bunch of listings in various New York City guides, from my perspective as a diner). But let me ask you: Would you consider such listings reliable, if you were consulting a Wikitravel guide for a place you haven't been to yet? I wouldn't and would tell any friend of mine in particular to ignore hotel listings on Wikitravel almost entirely. Ikan Kekek 05:51, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
Good God no! Of course I would not :) - with, it must be said, the very notable exceptions of certain articles here which are run as personal fiefdoms. Like I said WT was never intended to be a hotel review site. What WT is very good at is organisational stuff, activities and attractions. To be frank, no travel guides I have ever used are much cop at hotels. --Burmesedays 06:36, 7 August 2011 (EDT)

I always believed Wikitravel should be ultimately better than TripAdvisor in reliably recommending the best restaurant and hotels. Among other things, TripAdvisor forces a reader to read too much reviews per hotel/restaurant while we can summarize what's most important for making choice in a single paragraph.

As for "you won't rely on Wikitravel listing except when created by myself"--maybe we simply don't try hard enough to make Wikitravel listings trustworthy--but we should actually? --DenisYurkin 06:51, 7 August 2011 (EDT)

I think we do try, but I know that I lack enough information to edit the content of most hotel listings knowledgeably and haven't traveled to enough places to know all the listed restaurants. My feeling is that a large majority of the hotel listings were inserted by self-interested people, and probably a majority of the "Eat" and "Drink" listings, overall on this site, are as well. I would also delete some restaurant listings based on my own taste if I didn't feel that would violate the spirit of this guide. Caveat emptor! Ikan Kekek 15:50, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
We can't always blame the touts. Anyone who goes to the trouble of writing a listing is undoubtedly "self-interested". Ordinary travellers who want to tell the world about their favourite restaurant or hotel tend to do so with a gushing positivity that generally comes out as fluffy marketing copy (or perhaps worse still, in the style of printed travel guides). People just write that way because they dont know any better. Most people are bad at being unbiased, particularly when they are only considering the single best in town, affordable, must try!! restaurant or hotel they remember from their travels. Are we expecting too much by wanting fair and informative writing from the casual contributor? Are the "50 rooms with aircon and pool. Close to attractions" one line listings any more or less useful than promotional guff? - Cardboardbird 21:13, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
When have we ever asked for unbiased writing? We ask writers to be fair, not be neutral. LtPowers 21:45, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
I didn't think we did and I don't think I suggested that we did either. The crux of the arguments being made here is that many (most?) listings are perceived as untrustworthy because they were written by people who have a self interest in promoting that business (owners and customers alike). Matters of personal taste aside, what one sees as lively writing another takes as unreliable. It's rare to see a listing that is indeed, 'fair'. - Cardboardbird 22:20, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
On the bright side, new (not self-interested) people might be more likely to remove or correct an (originally self-interested) listing, than to add a whole new one. I don't trust any listings fully, also in printed guides, but I love to use them as a starting point and many people do. As far as taste goes, I totally prefer the "printed travel guide style" (I'm thinking LP) over "50 rooms with aircon and pool. Close to attractions". =) Justme 04:37, 8 August 2011 (EDT)

OK, let's start with a simple thing. Is there consensus that for every destination we should aim to list only restaurants and hotels which are the best for a traveller; this is what star acticles should only list in Sleep/Eat; our listings ultimately should be reliable and trustworthy; and we do bother to achieve that whenever possible?

Criteria of what is best, how to select them and how to describe hotels & restaurants to be discussed later. --DenisYurkin 15:43, 8 August 2011 (EDT)

I do not agree with those terms; as described at Wikitravel:Avoid negative reviews, sometimes it is actually desirable to list a non-recommended establishment. LtPowers 19:08, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
Of course with the exception of what recommended to list per Wikitravel:Avoid negative reviews and other policies (are there any other actually?). Now you agree? --DenisYurkin 03:24, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
That basically makes sense to me, and I thought that ultimate goal /was/ the consensus & policy :-) "The best" being a broad concept though, sometimes restaurants that aren't "very good" or are overpriced can be an addition still because they provide diversity in choice or a very convenient location. But that seems obvious. In small towns with few options I'd prefer to have /all/ listed with a short text of what to expect, rather than having only the 2 or 3 "best" options in the article. Justme 07:10, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
I suppose with those caveats, the statements are trivially true. LtPowers 10:55, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
If there are enough people interested in this issue then it might make sense to start a "Reliability expedition" whose goal it would be to brainstorm and implement ways to make Wikitravel listings more reliable. I don't think a prohibition on allowing businesses to list themselves on this site would be feasible, but perhaps something like a small icon that could be added by selected users to listings indicating "recommended/verified by X, Y and Z", thus providing some of the transparency of rating sites in a wiki-friendly format. Whatever the eventual solution, an expedition might be the best way to discuss options and test out ideas without having the drawn-out process of attempting to change the fundamental openness of Wikitravel to all contributors. -- Ryan • (talk) • 11:24, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
Ryan, just to better understand your point: how organizing an expedition can have an added value over a simple discussion thread, here in the Pub or in, let's say, Wikitravel talk:Don't tout? --DenisYurkin 16:54, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
I guess it goes back to the point (far) above about how difficult it is to achieve consensus. I don't think a discussion on disallowing listings from business owners will ever get to a result that changes the status quo, but there might be more success with an expedition whose goal is to come up with ways to make listings on Wikitravel more reliable. An expedition would have the advantage of having a group of people interested in the issue and focused on a specific goal, and would also have a bit more leeway to experiment with potential solutions. As it is, we have yet another good discussion that seems to be meandering around without any clear direction or potential solution, whereas a more focused expedition might be more productive. -- Ryan • (talk) • 17:57, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
OK, who else would be interested to be part of such a "reliability expedition" (or, maybe more general, on improving reliability and quality of selection of our eat & sleep listings)? --DenisYurkin 14:25, 10 August 2011 (EDT)
I would be, sounds like a good idea. --globe-trotter 14:45, 10 August 2011 (EDT)
I would also be willing to help get this going. -- Ryan • (talk) • 16:48, 10 August 2011 (EDT)
Me 4, this sounds like an excellent idea. --Peter Talk 19:14, 10 August 2011 (EDT)

Made a smallest first step possible :-), here it is: Wikitravel:Business listings reliability Expedition. Please plunge forward in clarifying its goals and anything else. I never started an expedition, and a bit depressed by a blank paper syndrome about it. --DenisYurkin 19:09, 24 August 2011 (EDT)


Starting out[edit]

Per Denis' I took a stab at expanding this. It seems like there might be two good ways to get this going:

  1. Start gathering info about where things stand now - what documentation exists, what processes exist, etc.
  2. Start brainstorming possible improvements and ideas on this talk page. Anything from redoing documentation to eliminating business contributions to adding "verified" badges to listings, etc.

To the second point, a couple ideas that occurred to me are making article status more prominent (perhaps revisiting Template:Title-icons and doing a bit more with those) and possibly implementing icons that could be added to listings such that a rollover would show users who "verified"/"endorsed" the listing and when they did so, for example:

  • The Shiz, 1234 Shiz Street, +1-555-555-5555, [1]. With four fireplaces and a view of the Magic Mountains this place is great for a romantic evening, and the food, while pricey, is memorable. Verified by User:Wrh2 (24-Aug-2011)  edit

The "verified"/"endorsed" icon would obviously benefit greatly from using a template, should probably use something other than a star, and ideally should change the image depending on the number and freshness of the people verifying/endorsing. -- Ryan • (talk) • 20:49, 24 August 2011 (EDT)

That little verified icon is awful cool! I might call it an "approved" icon instead, and maybe use a check mark? We would need to restrict its use, though, perhaps to autoconfirmed users.
I think a small template that we could place either in a section, such as "sleep", or even at the top of the article (ideally in the header) that would show the article was reviewed and deemed reliable, and would show who reviewed it and when, could be very useful as well.
I also like the idea of adding title icons to guide and usable templates (I assume that would be the best way of doing it?). --Peter Talk 21:23, 24 August 2011 (EDT)
I already thought of this "verified" listing idea, but I worked it out in a slightly different fashion (see [2]). However, your design is probably even better. The problem is who decides which listings would be endorsed, and how much of these listings we have. I'd say it should be limited to one per price category, else it'd lose its significance. --globe-trotter 15:54, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
I was envisioning this less as "endorsed" as in "this is the best" and more as "the people or person shown in the alt tag have verified that this listing is accurate as of the dates shown". I think it would be undesirable to have to try to come to a consensus on a single choice for any given article, although if ten people choose to "verify" a listing then it might be a good indication that it's a place worth visiting. Obviously some criteria would be needed as to who can "verify" a listing (must have been active for X months, have a user page, etc?) but that's probably a topic for discussion once the goals of this tool are established. -- Ryan • (talk) • 16:12, 26 August 2011 (EDT)

(Re-indenting) To summarize where this discussion stands so far, there seem to be three proposals:

  1. Create some sort of "verified"/"endorsed"/"approved" icon for listings.
  2. Expand the use of title icons to include things like usable/guide status. I'd also think docents, Wikitravel Press books, and other indicators of quality articles might be good icon candidates.
  3. A small template that we could place either in a section, such as "sleep", or even at the top of the article (ideally in the header) that would show the article was reviewed and deemed reliable, and would show who reviewed it and when, could be very useful as well.

Any other suggestions? Is there enough interest to start figuring out details of the above three and to then see if there is enough support to actually start moving ahead with them? -- Ryan • (talk) • 20:35, 29 August 2011 (EDT)

I think the list of three all have merit and are worth developing. For the listing icon, I would greatly prefer a verified category rather than trying to highlight the best. The latter is extremely subjective, the former is more of fact/quality check.
I really like the third idea. For example, recently I was delighted to hear that first time visitor to Nusa Lembongan used our guide and nothing else. Last year I had similar feedback about East Bali and its sub-articles. That's extremely encouraging for a writer as well as providing credibility for future users.--burmesedays 09:13, 30 August 2011 (EDT)
On #1, I would clarify: in addition to "added by X" we need "this listing [originally added by X] was verified by Y on date Z"
And one more suggestion--hopefully won't duplicate anything from the above.
4. What if we mark listings with "originally seemed to be added by business" and "originally seemed to be added by client"? Make no discrimination for some time, only to track how each type of source correlate with endorsements and non/validation later. For the cleaner experiment, we can even make no visual distinction--just add a template that expands into nothing when reading--but can only found when editing/diffing?
--DenisYurkin 15:40, 31 August 2011 (EDT)
I've added sub-sections below for discussion each of the three items mentioned above. I'm a little concerned about the "originally added by business" idea as that seems subjective - per Ikan's comment below, we already remove or de-tout anything that is overt advertising, so further trying to discern whether someone is a real user or a business trying to be sneaky might be difficult to do with any accuracy. For the "originally added by X", that's available in the article history - my hope would be that the "approved" icon would make it irrelevant who originally added the listing since we would now have other users giving their seal of approval. -- Ryan • (talk) • 13:13, 4 September 2011 (EDT)
*Bump* While discussions of ashrams and DotM templates are obviously grabbing the most attention right now, comments and suggestions for moving this expedition forward would still be greatly appreciated. -- Ryan • (talk) • 22:05, 13 September 2011 (EDT)

Approved icons[edit]

Following up from the above discussions, here are some issues that I think need to be resolved in order to move ahead with the above approved/endorsed template:

  1. Are we communicating that the users adding their names in this template have verified that the information in the listing is accurate, or that they are additionally saying that the information is accurate and they would recommend the business?
  2. What are the criteria for endorsing/approving a listing, and how is that enforced?
  3. What are the technical issues - icon, template, etc?

Regarding #1, I would suggest it means that the information is accurate and the person(s) listed would recommend the place.

Regarding #2, I would suggest the following:

  • Multiple listings can be approved - trying to choose just one or two would be really difficult.
  • Create a "Wikitravel:Approvers" (someone please come up with a better name) page that describes what it means for a listing to be "approved" and includes criteria such as registered user, will not approve a business that you own or work for, will not approve more than X listings per article section, where I'd suggest "X" is 2-3. The user should then add their signature to the bottom of the page. This ensures that users have read the guidelines, but is a fairly low barrier to entry for new users.
  • We include a comment with the "approved" template within listings such as <!-- please read http://wikitravel.org/en/Wikitravel:Approvers before approving a listing -->.
  • Any "approval" that is over two years old should be removed. Users are welcome to update the "approval" date yearly if they so choose.
  • If a listing changes significantly - for example "under new ownership", etc - all approvals should be removed.
  • It might make sense to limit the number of approvals for any given business to 5 to avoid having things get out of hand. If someone else wants to "approve" a business with five approvals then they should remove the oldest one first.

Regarding #3, a "checkmark" icon has been suggested, and I might propose that we come up with a few versions that could reflect how many people "approved" an entry (1-2, 3-4, 5, etc). The template can be an inclusion in a listing tag of the form <!-- please read http://wikitravel.org/en/Wikitravel:Approvers before approving a listing -->{{approved|User:Wrh2, 4-Sep-2011|User:Shiz, 3-Aug-2011}}.

Hopefully that's enough to get the discussion moving along... -- Ryan • (talk) • 13:13, 4 September 2011 (EDT)

While i general I agree with your proposals, I'm not sure if a Wikitravel:Approvers would be a good idea. I think it's a high barrier of entry for new users who just want to quickly approve a listing. I'd say just having a certain amount of edits (like 10 or 20) should be sufficient. I even hope in the future we'd have a technical solution so that a user can approve a listing with just one or two mouse clicks. Also, what listings are we talking about here? It seems mostly applicable to Sleep listings, but what about restaurants, bars and nightclubs? --globe-trotter 07:44, 14 September 2011 (EDT)
My thought with the "approvers" page was just as a way to address concerns mentioned by others about gaming the system, but I'm open to any solution. As to what sort of listings, I would imagine anything that uses a listing tag could be a target for this icon, but I think initially that sleep, eat and drink listings should be the focus. And I very much agree that in a perfect world this would be part of the listing editor, although I don't hold out much hope of IB making that happen. -- Ryan • (talk) • 11:02, 14 September 2011 (EDT)
Might I plug the "reviewers" label instead of approvers? I don't like the idea of the need for all listings to be approved, as that gives the impression that "superuser" opinions are necessary to allow a listing. What's really important is that someone has checked the listing to make sure that everything is factual, up to date, and in clean order—in short, reviewed. --Peter Talk 17:31, 14 September 2011 (EDT)
I'm fine with "reviewer", but I'd suggest that for individual listings this tag also be used to (in a sense) endorse a business as in "this information is accurate and I would recommend it", which would introduce a way of demonstrating what are subjectively favorite businesses. The "reviewed" template suggestion below could then be used solely for indicating that an entire section contains factually accurate listing info. -- Ryan • (talk) • 20:48, 14 September 2011 (EDT)
Ah sorry, I was confused—mixing up the two suggestions. Please disregard my last comment. --Peter Talk 22:23, 14 September 2011 (EDT)

On Approvers/Validators idea, reading on something similar here and remembering how Michelin Guide system of inspection works, I'm afraid we should have a closed-membership "club" of contributors eligible to "approve", where new members can join only when someone from existing members recommends him (basing on history of contributions, i.e. not necessarily to know him personally in real life). Otherwise the system can be gamed easily: business owner publishes recommendation, registers a fake user account, waits until account is eligible and "approves"/validates his own listing.

In other words, there should be some reliable evidence that a user allowed to validate is a traveller, and mostly interested in helping fellow travellers -- rather than a business owner/affiliate and/or interested in promoting businesses more than in helping travellers. Either one of the "club members" knows him personally--or his history of edits clearly indicates that interest. --DenisYurkin 18:42, 24 September 2011 (EDT)

While I'd like to see some minimum requirements for allowing a user to approve/validate listings, I think ideally we should set that bar as low as possible (at least initially) to encourage people to participate. I don't think we can ever 100% ensure that people won't try to game the system, but it might be sufficient to just ask users to sign a page indicating that they agree to the approver/validator guidelines if those guidelines include comments to the effect that gaming the system will result in removal of listings. That said, I've traditionally been on the side of being more inclusive of business owners, so additional opinions would be valuable. -- Ryan • (talk) • 21:42, 25 September 2011 (EDT)
Judging by more popular review sites, banning for such cheat quickly leads to blackmail: to remove a competitor from WT for long, just perform such a fake validation for a competitors listing. --DenisYurkin 15:24, 27 September 2011 (EDT)

Title icons[edit]

Some ideas for expanding use of title icons:

  • Add an icon for articles with docents. Currently the left-nav link is more-or-less invisible.
  • Add an icon for guide articles.
  • I'd also suggest tweaking the display slightly to make the icons more eye-catching - suggestions for doing so are welcome.
  • Re-work Template:Title-icons to make it more flexible, so for example Template:Startopic could automatically add the icon without the need for an additional {{title-icons|star-icon}}.

Additional ideas/comments? -- Ryan • (talk) • 13:13, 4 September 2011 (EDT)

Reviewed templates[edit]

Per Peter's comment above, it would be helpful to have a unobtrusive template that could be added to article sections or full articles indicating when the article/section was last reviewed for accuracy, and who did so. Currently articles that are used for Wikitravel Press books get reviewed fairly often, but a user reading the article would have no idea that an extensive review had been recently done. The issues to resolve with such a template are similar to those for the approved icon:

  1. What does this template mean? This template should indicate that someone verified every phone number, URL, price, description, etc for a section? That all listed businesses are still open? Something else?
  2. What are the criteria for users to use this template, and how is that enforced?
  3. What are the technical issues? What does the template look like?

For #1, those who review articles for Wikitravel Press are probably best qualified to say what their current criteria are and we can then build from there.

For #2, I'd suggest something similar to the Wikitravel:Approvers process, where we have a page that outlines requirements and ask people to sign it before using this template. What those requirements are is up for discussion.

For #3, I'm sure there are lots of suggestions :)

-- Ryan • (talk) • 13:13, 4 September 2011 (EDT)

Who posted the listing[edit]

I would like to argue that any listing using "we" or "our" should be not edited but summarily deleted, as obviously self-interested and, therefore, unreliable. Like any other rule, this would be subject to exceptions on a case-by-case basis, but I think that whenever it's obvious a listing was posted by a self-interested person, whether because it's 100% obvious it's touting ("well-appointed rooms," et al.) or because "we" or "our" was used, unless other, non-interested people can vouch for the place, it should not be listed - and I mean probably never listed. Ikan Kekek 23:05, 24 August 2011 (EDT)

What's wrong reliability-wise in a listing saying "We had a dinner here and liked is so much that returned here twice during our week-long stay. We definitely enjoyed their T-bone steaks and cheesecakes."? Yes, we should edit first-person pronouns, but otherwise it's very likely a first-hand real-experience reviews--the only better thing in terms of customer-experience reliability could be only a summary of several real-experience first-hand reviews. Why remove them altogether? --DenisYurkin 17:20, 30 August 2011 (EDT)
You misunderstand. I'm talking about "We offer luxurious, well-appointed rooms," not "We had a great dinner" or "We liked this hotel." Ikan Kekek 17:54, 30 August 2011 (EDT)
I think it's fine to remove listings for this reason, but it should also be just as OK to keep it after detouting. While touts do come across as infuriating little dissemblers, most are just totally clueless. The owner of the Welcome Manor Inn in Bronzeville is a really cool guy who runs a great business. The listing he originally added, though, looked like this [3]—it now looks like one of the better listings in the article. --Peter Talk 16:29, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
now looks like one of the better listings in the article
You mean "one of the best-written" rather than "I tried many alternatives in the area, and this hotel is definitely the best in its price range", right? --DenisYurkin 17:20, 30 August 2011 (EDT)
I mean, there are quality of services and quality of description. In my belief, we should focus on former here--and only after succeeding with that, aim on the latter. --DenisYurkin 15:30, 31 August 2011 (EDT)
I even think business owners placing their own businesses are an asset to Wikitravel. I get plenty of spammy/touty hotel listings in the Bangkok district pages, but after de-touting they make fine additions to the articles. I don't see why we should delete these listings while they are useful additions in general. --globe-trotter 23:56, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
Most of my early edits here involved adding business listings, and I am sure I cocked them up big time :). I am of the same view as Peter that most business owners are clueless rather than deliberate abusers. There are of course notable exceptions to that.--Burmesedays 01:02, 27 August 2011 (EDT)

Here's the problem: Unless someone without financial interest in a business can vouch for its being a good one, there is good reason to distrust self-interested listings, even if detouted in style by a subsequent editor. What is your solution in the very numerous cases that an administrator has no knowledge of the establishment other than an obviously self-interested listing? I can detout, but I still don't trust the detouted listing if I am personally unfamiliar with the establishment. Ikan Kekek 02:14, 27 August 2011 (EDT)

There is no fool-proof solution, which is why we do not seek to be review site. Contact details and prices can often be verified by a website, but we cannot go any further than that, nor should we pretend that we ever could.--burmesedays 03:05, 27 August 2011 (EDT)
So what is this expedition about? Purely reliability of contact information and pricing, not descriptions in any sense? If so, is there very much to discuss? Ikan Kekek 04:10, 27 August 2011 (EDT)
A tiny percentage of business listings could be verified in the manner Ryan proposes I guess. However, there is no site-wide solution I can think of other than attempting to ban a business listing made by anyone with an interest in that business. Aside from the impossibility of policing that, there will never be consensus reached for such a draconian action. --burmesedays 04:29, 27 August 2011 (EDT)
So is your proposal to essentially give up, close the discussion, and go on to something else there's more consensus on? Ikan Kekek 04:39, 27 August 2011 (EDT)
 :=). Nope. I would be delighted if a practical solution was found.
Going back to your original suggestion about first person writing, it is already a reason for deletion which any editor has the discretion to enforce. I agree with Peter on that point.--burmesedays 04:51, 27 August 2011 (EDT)
It seems like right now, the touting policy is enforced either by: (1) deleting the listing more or less for good and all, (2) detouting it, or (3) deleting it with instructions and a chance for the offender to detout the listing him-/herself; and that which of these three reactions is taken is purely at the discretion of the editor, with no general case on which of these approaches one would normally take. I, too, have varied between these different reactions, depending on how bad the touting was and how much time I felt like taking to edit someone else's touty listing. My proposal above, though, was to establish a rule that the general case would be to simply delete touty listings and keep them deleted, with the two other types of reactions I list above constituting exceptions to the rule.
Is this worth discussing? Ikan Kekek 05:06, 27 August 2011 (EDT)
(Re-indenting) I'd suggest that we allow some discretion - if the person patrolling a listing thinks it is worth de-touting then they should be permitted to do so, as should someone who chooses to simply revert it. If the listing is being deleted I would suggest a guideline that feedback is provided for the user in question, either via the edit summary ("please do not write promotional, first-person listings per Wikitravel:Don't tout") or a talk page message; repeat offenders could obviously be reverted without additional comment. I don't disagree with Ikan that the reliability of a listing posted by a business owner is suspect, but it would be a shame to make Wikitravel even more anti-business since business owners can often make valuable contributions if properly motivated. -- Ryan • (talk) • 20:28, 29 August 2011 (EDT)
My actions are in fact along the lines you outline, but that's in keeping with policy here. If the policy were harsher, I would summarily delete and then not allow cleaned-up versions to be posted. Ikan Kekek 06:20, 30 August 2011 (EDT)
I'm in minority here, but I'm with you in proposing to remove business-added(?) reviews alltogether--rather than detout them. Because once we detout, we'll never know whether any single customer ever liked this place, or it's purely a product of its marketing. --DenisYurkin 17:23, 30 August 2011 (EDT)

what will make us more reliable than Tripadvisor etc ratings?[edit]

I just realized that none from the above suggestions, even if successful, will make us more reliable or reputable than Tripadvisor's ratings on restaurants or hotels for a destination. And the truth is that I don't have any ideas how to change that. --DenisYurkin 16:33, 29 November 2011 (EST)

I still think the starred listings is a good one.
A black star means this listing has been added or updated by an anonymous or single listing editor.
A orange star means this listing has been added or updated by a business owner or their employee/agent - this listing is likely accurate but negative aspects are likely omitted.
A green star means this listing has been added or updated by a registered wikitravel user of standing, who has contributed to various articles and edited listings of various types.
Of course many listings will remain unstarred, but a WT user can feel free to add the stars to their own or other listings as appropriate. --Inas 17:24, 29 November 2011 (EST)
@Inas I like the idea behind the above, but wouldn't it be tough to implement? We don't always know who a business owner is, and technically it might be difficult to change status based on how many contributions someone makes. Is there any particular objection to just using a system where there is some very simple criteria as to who can "star" an icon (as discussed in the sections above), and the color then just reflects how many people have starred the listing?
@DenisYurkin While the ideal solution would be to exceed Tripadvisor, I think the initial goal is just to improve the reliability of the Wikitravel's content. Baby steps :) -- Ryan • (talk) • 12:30, 4 December 2011 (EST)
I think the tripadvisor comparison is a valid one. I use tripadvisor for accommodation reviews all the time - I find them valuable. As you know tripadvisor doesn't permit reviews by business owners, but they do allow their comments. When evaluating whether to trust a review you can see how many of their other reviews were voted as helpful. So, in other words you build up trust in the review by building up trust in the reviewer. Frankly, to me if a review is written by a one time anonymous editor, or a business owner, it is completely and utterly worthless to me - I may was well search on booking.com or expedia. However, a review by written by a regular WT contributor - even if they were the only person to star it - would be most worthwhile. It wouldn't be hard to award a green star to a user after a few contributions - they are then entitled to green star reviews they know are legitimate. Similarly, we give an orange star to the IPs or accounts of business interests, which they can use or have assigned to their listings. While we maintain the community policy of allowing vested interests to contribute, it seems only reasonable that we at least let people know that one review was written by a traveller telling it as it is, and the other was written by a person whose only interest is in the promotion of it. --Inas 17:15, 4 December 2011 (EST)
Your system sounds hard to implement I think. Wikitravel is an open collaboration site. A listing could be added by a business owner, edited by a Wikitravel veteran, then re-worded by an anonymous IP, after which another Wikitravel veteran fixes his grammar. It is impossible to judge who "added" most to this listing or gave most weight to its wording. --Globe-trotter 02:16, 22 January 2012 (EST)

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