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Wikitravel talk:Internet Brands

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Revision as of 20:25, 20 April 2006 by Nils (Talk | contribs)

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Internet Brands, Inc

Well, to keep out trust, I think the best thing you can do is to make dumps of the database available soon. --elgaard 09:08, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

Punchline?

Err, the press release is titled "INTERNET BRANDS ACQUIRES WIKITRAVEL AND WORLD66 ONLINE TRAVEL GUIDES". Why are you covering it up like it's something to be embarrassed about? Jpatokal 09:48, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

That's the press release; this is the announcement on Wikitravel. It's a different piece of text. It's about Wikitravel, and what this means for the project.
I guess I'm too wrapped up in the dramatic presentation of the prose (point A leads to point B and thus to point C). I'd rather unfold the story than give it away at the beginning. If it bothers you not to have it in the title, or if you think it sounds wrong, please, go ahead and change it. --Evan 10:09, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

Copyleft?

When will we see information about the IBI position regarding Copyleft and Creative Commons? An interesting nuance of language: the press release Jpatokal cites above correctly points out that we do stuff under CC-SA -- but it doesn't say that they do. Please clarify, soon. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 10:06, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

The Copyleft stays the same. If it's not hyped enough in their press release it's only because of their target audience. That's one of the reasons we wrote up the log book entry to explain things to the community here... Majnoona 10:10, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Is the question whether the license will stay the same for WT/W66 guides? Absolutely. There's no question. Perish the thought.
As for IB's stance: I'm pretty sure that Wikitravel and World66 are IB's first Open Content Web sites. I don't know if IB plans to have other such sites in the future, but I do know that they support our licensing and that they understand that our copyleft is a crucial part of why Wikitravel works so well. --Evan 10:14, 20 April 2006 (EDT)


A few cynical questions

First off, it's great to get funding for servers, bandwidth, etc. However, as a cynic, I have a couple of questions.

1. How will wikitravel keep contributors providing free information to a for-profit enterprise?
(All I'm thinking right now is, why should I work for free for this company?)
2. Will paid advertising be labeled as such?
(I'm worried that not doing so will lower the value of the information provided in the mind of the reader, and ultimately, they'll go elsewhere for an unbiased, uninfluenced guide, even if they have to pay for it. Defeating the whole purpose of the project as I understood it.)
3. Will contributors get a cut if the article they wrote gets lots of traffic and therefore generates more ad revenue?
4. How much influence and censorship will the commercial enterprise have on content? Will I be able to say that the service at one of our sponsors was terrible?


Thank you. --Victoria 11:14, 20 April 2006 (EDT)


Victoria: good questions! Lemme see if I can answer them.
  1. Wikitravellers aren't providing information to IB. They're providing it to other travellers. IB's providing a platform for Wikitravellers to create and share guides. They're going to use the resource they provide (Web server, software, bandwidth) to generate ad revenue. They're not going to get in the middle of our guides.
    As for whether people should "work for free" for a commercial company: no. But Wikitravellers didn't work for me and Maj when we hosted the site personally, nor do Wikipedians work for the Wikimedia Foundation. I might also point out that a lot of other entities (mirror operators, travel-related businesses in our listings) benefit from Wikitravel guides, but they're not giving any resources back to the project.
  2. The plan for advertising is not set in stone; neither the when's, how's, or wherefore's. When the time comes to add advertising, we'll have a community discussion and work out a policy on the matter. Some things I'm sure of: advertising will be labelled as advertising. It will be separate from the guides, and it will be unobtrusive. IB's management has deep newspaper experience (LA Times), and they've reiterated that a travel guide without editorial independence isn't going to be worthwhile. Advertising that gets in the way of wiki editing, or sours our reputation, will hurt Wikitravel. That just doesn't make business sense.
  3. No. Wikitravellers will not be paid to work on their own Open Content project (at least, not by IB). Not only would it be extremely hard to work out fairly, but it would almost definitely screw up the community.
  4. As far as censorship, this will not happen. Wikitravel guides will remain editorially independent from advertising. That's what makes them valuable.
    As far as influence, I think there will be a lot, but not in the way you mean. I think having a commercial enterprise behind Wikitravel will mean that we can increase development and system administration resources, hardware, and work with other MediaWiki sites to improve the software (both in a general way, and in ways that are specific to travel). I hope that the influence will be big, and positive.
I hope those answers are clear. --Evan 11:47, 20 April 2006 (EDT)


I expected more from Wikitravel than from a newspaper. Ie. someone ordered journalists at the LA Times to not reprint the Mohammed Cartoons. Wikipedia did republish them.
And wikitravel.org is now under US legislation. --elgaard 12:32, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
I have to agree with you on the newspaper point -- a wiki is just not comparable:
As for "now being under US lesislation", we've always been subject to laws, that's nothing new.
Majnoona 14:03, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
We have been subject to laws, but now we are stuck with certain laws. As for no editors, lets see what happens when someone threatens IB with a lawsuit over alledged copyvio on Wikitravel and the consensus here is to ignore it. Or when China wants us to censor a few pages, when served to chinese travellers. --elgaard 14:36, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Sorry, but I don't understand the difference between being subject and stuck with laws. In the past we have been clear about not breaking US/Canadian laws, so nothings changing in that regard. And copyvio stuff already doesn't belong here. Majnoona 14:45, 20 April 2006 (EDT)


I was was not advocating breaking laws. But you do not have to be guilty to be sued or just threatened. IB might handle it differently than you and Evan would have. --elgaard 14:58, 20 April 2006 (EDT)


Good points. And will the advertising influence the content? Will we see more casinos and strip clubs on Wikitravel? Or will IBI censor controversial contributions?
Will there be adverts in off-line versions?
But IBI has only bought the domain www.wikitravel.org, not the content.
Experience from Open Source shows that abuses can be prevented. Because if it gets bad enough a handful of unhappy developers/contributers can fork the projekt with a new name.
That is why it is important that we gets access to the source of Wikitravel: the complete database. We could reconstruct much from Google and clones, but we migh loose history and the attribution requirement make it a mess. The Wikipedia:http:Cddb#History demonstrates the danger of not having full access to your own data. --elgaard 11:45, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

Pre-Slashdot warning

I just submitted a suitably spun notification to Slashdot. I've had a fairly good hit rate there, so if Wikitravel suddenly slows to a crawl and fills up with goatse.cx pictures, I'm the one to blame =) Jpatokal 11:34, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

...or maybe not, because it was rejected in minutes. Sniff. Jpatokal 12:10, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Don't take it personally. My experience is that Slashdot editors read every submission on a particular topic and publish the one with the most spelling errors and incorrect information. --Evan 12:21, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

Pillage

Am I permitted to pillage through World66's content on Munich? Or am I supposed to wait? Sapphire 14:27, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

You're totally permitted to pillage. Just note the date on Talk:Munich, so we can go back and give attribution later.
Actually... let's make that easier. why don't you use Template:FromWorld66, like this {{FromWorld66|europe/germany/bavaria/munich|~~~~~}}. It won't have any output (for now), but I can put some magic behind it later. --Evan 14:38, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Should there be ~~~~~ or ~~~~'s? Sapphire 15:34, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Five does a datestamp, I think. 15:37, 20 April 2006 (EDT) . --Evan 15:37, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
So... import the info and place that tag where exactly? - Andrew
Put it at the bottom of the page on Munich. --Evan 15:01, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Hi Andrew, place the tag at the bottom of the page. Usually there will be other template tags there already. HTH! Majnoona 15:04, 20 April 2006 (EDT)


Actually, I'm not so sure I want to pillage anymore. I dislike World66's Munich guide. Hmm. I wonder if anything is worth pillaging the Cincinnati article. Sapphire 15:21, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

Process & Reasons

I would be interested to know the process that brought you to this decision and why you took it. -- DanielC 14:47, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

Wikitravel and World66 have both been on the Web for a while. We're different in a lot of ways, but at the core we're both Open Content, world-wide, wiki travel guides. I think that there's a pretty natural match here.
Maj and I have always known that Wikitravel couldn't keep competing with World66 for editors, readers, and attention forever. When IB told us about their ideas for Wikitravel and World66, we knew it was just the right thing to do. Having the additional benefits of ample resources and development effort, and a management team at IB that understood the importance of a hands-off approach to the Wikitravel community and content, sealed the deal.
If this had been a different company, or a different situation, this wouldn't have happened. --Evan 15:00, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

Alternative Wiki

Does anyone plan to put up another wiki that won't be for profit? I have no interest in providing free content from which others will profit. There should be an alternative. The company which bought Wikitravel is contemplating an IPO, and there will be plenty of profit off the labor we have already invested. Nkb

So, you want to do a wiki that no one will profit from in any way? Or just not the company that hosts and supports the wiki? There are plenty of mirror operators and travel businesses who benefit financially from Wikitravel today -- none of them contribute resources back to the project, though.
We've always had commercial use as part of our goals. Publishing guides (paper or digital) costs money, and it seems like insisting on non-commercial use only meant that the information that was shared on Wikitravel wouldn't be as useful to travellers.
The examples of Wikia and commercial Open Source software companies show that Open Content isn't incompatible with a commercial venture. There's room in wiki for a diverse ecology of entities -- individuals, non-profit groups, and for-profit ventures.
Don't think of it as being used by a commercial venture. Instead, think about using that commercial venture's resources to do something you wanted to do anyways. I think our goal is to provide a valuable service to the Wikitravel community so the project can do its job; any revenue that comes out of that will be fair and transparent. --Evan 15:37, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

Thoughts

Hm. Hm. I am not really a Wikitravel user anymore, so I can not and will not tell you how to run your site. So you sold out; congratulations.

However, I am not known for keeping my mouth shut if I have an opinion.

I do find it unfortunate to take content that other people have created and to turn it into a for-profit enterprise. I am of course perfectly aware that the cc by-sa license allows for this; but it still feels wrong. I don't suppose I am going to get a cut of the revenues for articles I helped create?

Merging with a similar project might make sense, but I wonder why you had to sell out completely. Have you considered alternatives? You could have simply merged the content under some form of agreement (or not even that - the agreement in form of the cc by-sa is already there, afterall, and there really is little point of duplicate efforts.) Or you could have made Wikitravel a part of the Mediawiki foundation (I am not saying that would have been the best of ideas, but it is an alternative approach).

I took a quick glance at world66.com and, frankly, I am underwhelmed. The textual content seems alright, the use of google maps is a nice idea but completely pointless for now (as google maps only supports UK and US); the ads steal way too much screen space and are very intrusive; I saw at least one photo which had a Copyright watermark on it; and I did note that on every page they link three times to the maintainer company - with different text in the link. If that isn't to boost their Google rank, then I don't know. It simply has a bad aftertaste. If that is what Wikitravel will be like - no thanks.

You will forgive me that I am very skeptical about your "advertisement policy", whatever it will look like. Wikitravel has not been good at all about sticking to its own policies in the past, and that was before there was a financial incentive involved. Now that cash gets waved around, I am pretty confident that the content will eventually be changed to be advertiser-friendly. It's just a matter of time. At the very least you'll need an oversights committee, and it needs to have the power to enforce the rules that the community sets up. Since the deal is already sealed, it's too late now to enforce any kind of community-control in your contracts besides what the by-sa license covers.

You talk about how the community has let you be "stewards" of the project, and how community will "continue" to make decisions and policies. When was the community involved in your decision to sell to Internet Brands? Where was the discussion, the vote, the request for feedback? Maybe I simply missed it; but a quick check of the Travellers' pub reveals no such discussion. I'll note that advertising is still listed as an explicit non-goal, which is the current community policy on the issue and which you have just overruled as the site owner.

I guess it's okay for you to set yourself and your wife up in what may seem like your dream-jobs; afterall everybody likes a steady paycheck. But can't you at least stop the euphemisms?

As an aside, I would really like to know your traffic and resource usage statistics. I can't see Wikitravel using a significant amount of either right now, even considering what a horribly inefficient beast MediaWiki is.

-- Nils 16:01, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

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