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Wikitravel talk:Internet Brands

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Internet Brands, Inc

Well, to keep our 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)

Seconded. Dumps are nice. Not that I'd do anything with it, personally. -- Nils 16:23, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
OK, I understand that, and it's good to know. I'll get back to you when I have more details. --Evan 16:15, 21 April 2006 (EDT)
Hi Evan - can you explain what the issues are about providing access to the raw Wikitravel data? I've had a few misgivings since the Internet Brands announcement, specifically that the decision process bypassed the normal discussion and consensus procedure that's used here, which makes me question how well IB understands the community and what exactly they've bought. I realize that the contributors own the content they've contributed, but the value of that content is as a complete guide, and not as individual articles - providing a way for contributors to access the full set of raw data would make it clear that IB's interest are in providing a platform for a travel community, and not in owning a database of travel information.
Note that I'm not necessarily advocating that downloadable database dumps be made available, as I'd be dismayed if dozens of ad-filled, non-compliant Wikitravel clones popped up everywhere. It seems to me that providing a for-charge DVD dump of the database might be an ideal solution, as it guarantees to the community that for a reasonable cost a clone could be set up if in the future the community disagrees with IB's policies, and also provides a way of knowing who wants the content now to ensure that they understand the license requirements. Alternately some other means of providing access to the data would be fine, I'd just like to know what the plans are. -- Ryan 23:25, 24 April 2006 (EDT)
Those clones already exist and they have the Wikitravel material they need. It is not out responsebilty to ensure that people understand the license before we give them a DB dump or a webpage. Besides somone would just buy the DVD and make it public for free. And I want it to run Wikitravel on my laptop. --elgaard 09:43, 25 April 2006 (EDT)
Just to be clear, my point is simply that it would be good if there was some re-assurance that IB is going to make the full content available somehow - the comments about a for-sale DVD were just a suggestion. What I think would be good to see is some comment from Evan/IB that says "we are going to provide for-sale/downloadable/other access to the full set of raw data". That would re-assure me that IB understands that their role is platform provider, and not content owner. Hopefully Evan can clarify this point soon. -- Ryan 12:31, 25 April 2006 (EDT)
Ryan, I'm sorry I don't have a clear answer on the dumps. I'm working on it, and I hope to get one soon. --Evan 13:15, 25 April 2006 (EDT)
Can you at least clarify if the issues are technical, or if it is a problem with getting permission from IB? That's my main concern - I don't mind waiting for a while for dumps or some other raw data access to be made available, but if the issues are not technical then I would like to get a sense of how IB views their ownership of Wikitravel. -- Ryan 17:14, 25 April 2006 (EDT)
It's a combination of both. The right people are looking at the problem right now at IB, and I'll let you know as soon as I have information. --Evan 19:43, 25 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)
Thankfully, Wikitravel has not yet degraded to using press releases as news items. That would have been awfully quick. -- Nils 16:24, 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)
Does it really matter what IB thinks of Copyleft? The content is licensed BY-SA, which means what it says, all derrivative works must share alike. IB can't take it and run away. They can either work with it as is, or turf it all and do their own thing with the domain they've bought. I'm not worried about Copyleft and what happens with the content, they can't legally change that without the consent of every single person who has ever contributed. That's one of the purposes of Copyleft. --Dawnview 01:38, 21 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:Cddb#History demonstrates the danger of not having full access to your own data. --elgaard 11:45, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

Regarding your questions, Elgaard, I want to second what Evan said about the influence of advertising on the site. My name is Stan Holt, and I work in publishing at Internet Brands. I know that one thing that attracted IB to the Wikitravel project was the objectivity you get from the collaboration of knowledgeable travelers. Lose that objectivity and the project loses its mission and, most likely, its audience.

As for controversial contributions, we view censorship as the failure of community collaboration. The Wikitravel community has done an exceptional job of managing controversial content to date, and there are no plans to mess with a successful process. --sphwiki 3:20 pm, 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)
I'm not convinced this is the right thing to do at all. A community that is only free by the promise of a commercial company isn't the way I like them. I hope a new generation will pick up where others left.
Over all, I've seen only valid points made by users, and sadly very few good points made to defend this situation. It makes a person wonder where the so called "democracy" is. -Twopeak 213.119.163.25 20:50, 22 April 2006 (EDT)
We are not only free by a promise from a company -- we can walk away with the content at any time and set up a new site. The company knows this and presumably will avoid terminally offending the community. There are plenty of us who have the technical ability to start a new wikitravel with the old content... but we see no reason to do so if we can instead cooexist with a company which will take over the annoyance and expense of running the servers. -- Colin 22:49, 22 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)

Hi, Nils. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I know you haven't been a big contributor to Wikitravel in a while, but you've been an important member of the project in the past and I'm glad you had the time to say what you wanted to say.
Traffic info is at http://wikitravel.org/webalizer/web/ .
Wikitravel guides continue to be Open Content and you can keep 100% of the revenue you make from them.
Wikitravel is not going to become like World66 or Fark or Flickr or digg or Yahoo! or Wanadoo or boingboing or any other Web site. It's going to remain like Wikitravel, for now and into the future. The last thing we want to do is pull the rug out from under people.
Our decision about what to do with our role in Wikitravel was our own. We considered a lot of options, and becoming part of a commercial venture that understands Wikitravel's way of doing things seemed to us the best one. It's now up to the Wikitravel community to evaluate the resources we've been providing and will provide in the future. All we ask is that they keep an open mind and evaluate us on results and not prejudices and preconceptions. --Evan 16:33, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Thanks for the stats; that's hardly what I would call massive traffic though.
As for the rest, I still think you're talking in euphemisms. You're presenting a done deal to the community and the choice is basically to accept it and go on as if nothing happened and swallow whatever IB will shove down Wikitravel's throat, or to go someplace else, fork the project, and split the userbase; hardly something that anybody who actually feels part of a community would be too thrilled about. (And without dumps, it cannot be done anyway, but I have no doubt you will provide those later on just on principle.)
Actually asking your community for their input before the deal would have put your decision on more solid ground. It needn't have been public or involved everybody, though that and a vote would of course have been the nicest from a community point of view.
Your decision about your own role is fine and I would never question it. However, that is not what happened. You didn't just hire up with IB; you sold Wikitravel. And I do question you talking of respecting community decisions and policies on the one hand, and your handling of the wikitravel sell-out on the other hand. You cannot have it both ways, Evan - either you involve your community, or you don't, but don't say you do when you don't. If the rules of Wikitravel are, "Evan is the boss, and he overrules all if he feels like it", then put that in the policy. Be honest with your users.
Damn now you made me try to tell you how to run your site afterall. ;) Time for me to go back into retirement. -- Nils 17:32, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

What does IB own?

Following from section above, Thoughts.

Well the thing is that it's still not clear to me what has been sold. Copyrights are copyrights, and are the property of their owners. For instance until it's replaced (maybe it will be, maybe it won't) I happen to own the copyright for the Wikitravel logo. So I'm pretty sure that hasn't been sold to IB. Of course they have as much right to use it under the CC-by-sa licence I granted as anyone does. I don't think I could claim to own the Trademark however. I think we will have to discuss trademarks.

I also own the copyright to some maps of Paris (which aren't complete). You own the copyright to a very nice photo of the Eiffel Tower. These have not been sold to IB.

I guess the right to host this particular (and most central) Wikitravel site now belongs to IB. Fine and dandy, let them pay the electricity bills. Let them collect any add revenue. Big whup. If however I or say some search engine company or you or my sister were to decide to host a Wikitravel mirror which also happened to copy all submissions back to IB's server, I don't see a thing IB could do about it under the license. I guess they could refuse the submissions, but that wouldn't be very smart would it?

So let me return to the original point: What exactly do you think IB owns? -- Mark 18:00, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

So how did your logo get on the internetbrands.com website which is not CC-by-sa? --elgaard 06:44, 21 April 2006 (EDT)
Surely you already know the answer to this. It's an image. A web page you put an image on is not a derivative work. They can use my CC-by-sa licensed image there just as any other website could. Note that I didn't choose the CC-by-nc-sa license. Did you miss the point where I mentioned that they have as much right to use it as anybody else? -- Mark 08:09, 21 April 2006 (EDT)
The web page might be a collective work. But:
  • They do not credit you according to the by-clause
  • They do not include a URL to the CC license
  • On the terms page thay claim to own the copyrigt to the Wikitravel logo ("Unless otherwise specified, all materials appearing on this site, including site design, text, graphics, logos, images, icons interfaces, and the selection, assembly and arrangements thereof are the sole property of Internet Brands, Inc.") --elgaard 10:30, 21 April 2006 (EDT)
Yeah, they really "get" the cc license. -- Nils 05:41, 24 April 2006 (EDT)
Good points. Evan, can you see to this? I'd hate to have to send a cease and desist to our new corporate masters. I'll be happy to consider the current license infraction cured if they start following the license within, let's say 30 days. Thanks. -- Mark 08:01, 24 April 2006 (EDT)
Of course, I do fully expect IB to drop the logo either because it's not as good as it could be, or because I own the copyright or both. Of course that might look at least a little funny to some contributors. -- Mark 08:03, 24 April 2006 (EDT)
Actually the rights for that logo confuse me a bit... Mark obviously has the copyright to the image and he has graciously licensed it for everybody to use under the terms of the CC license. However, as I understand the string "Wikitravel" is trademarked, and this trademark has passed from Evan/Maj to Internet Brands. So copyrightwise anybody can still use the logo, but trademarkwise they need permission from Internet Brands...? Jpatokal 08:40, 24 April 2006 (EDT)
We don't actually know what has happened to the trademark. Evan and Maj could make a strong argument in court that they own(ned) a tradmark to Wikitravel used as a travel guide, and so might have sold that right to IB, but we don't know if this is the case. This is one of the things I'd still like to see some clarification on.
In terms of copyright, IB can excercise the same rights as anybody else under the CC-by-sa to use the logo design and the SVG I made or any derivative works. Of course if they like it and want to use it under some different terms I'm open for negociation. Evan, if this is the case please feel free to give them my phone number. -- Mark 08:46, 24 April 2006 (EDT)
(Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, but intellectual-property law is one of my kinky little hobbies.) Even though they apparently never filed paperwork (at least not in the US) the "Wikitravel" trademark was pretty securely in Evan and Maj's hands (with Mark's logo as part of the, uh, mark), and is now in IB's. They have a well-established first-use, and its a fairly distinctive made-up word and design, so unless it's contested by someone who argues that the compound construct "wiki[existingword]" is generic, I can't see the USPTO denying them a registration if they file for it. The copyright for the logo is clearly still Mark's. Under the terms of the CC-BY-SA licence, all IB needs to do differently to use it is to attribute it to him, which basically means nudging someone in Legal to update the boilerplate on their web site and maybe on any pages it appears on. They might want to purchase it outright or negotiate a license on other terms as a convenience, to save them the trouble of keeping him attributed, but that's mostly a question of whether their lawyers are the nervous type or not. - Todd VerBeek 09:37, 24 April 2006 (EDT)
Basically a domain name. -- Giorgio 18:23, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Just my 2-cents on all this. First I think at any time Evan and Maj wanted to, they could have said "Gee, getting tired of this Wikitravel stuff and we are going to turn off the servers and forget about it". I don't think they would have done that, but the point is at any point in time the "owner" could do that. I don't think IB will do that either. As far as what IB owns, first they own all the expenses and they they have two new employees that will be working even harder for Wikitravel then they have in the past. Why? Because they will be full time and it is in their personal finacial interest to see it succeed. Next, IB now own the servers, bills, etc. Next, IB now owns the right to place ads on the site. I for one think that is a good thing. Placement of do, see, sleep and eat ads on the site will be helpful. Look at google, the ads don't really get in the way. I believe is a good deal. Now, who owns the content? We all do.... it is CC-SA 1.0 and everything I have donated has gone to everyone. (small bow, and you are welcome) Tom Holland (xltel) 18:41, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Except that Evan promised not to stop the servers and forget about it on Wikitravel talk:Technical_details. That was when we discussed having Wikimedia Foundation host Wikitravel. Maybe this is the reason for not coorporating with Wikimedia Foundation. --elgaard 19:12, 20 April 2006 (EDT)


We haven't seen a contract. But the domain, possible the trademark. Ie. could the french users move to their own wikitravel.fr server? Maybe software such as maintenance scripts that Evan has not published yet. And of course possession of the database. I hope that do not try to take advantage of the database that we created, but no one promised dumps yet. --elgaard 18:54, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
I can't speak for Evan, but he has in various forums made it clear that he's gotten this message loud and clear. I think it's in the transcript of the admin's meeting. I suspect that it's next on his TODO list after stabilizing the db. -- Mark 01:08, 21 April 2006 (EDT)


What does IB own in terms of Wikitravel policies? They own the servers, domain, etc, but not content. I mean, it's a bit wierd if Wikitravellers make policy on someone else's property. If Wikitravllers, by the methods we've always used, decide on some policy, can it be overruled? --Dawnview 01:40, 21 April 2006 (EDT)
I don't see how, considering the whole site could be overruled (forked) by Wikitravellers if necessary. If IB were to decide to overrule our decisions they certainly understand that risk first. -- Mark 05:52, 21 April 2006 (EDT)
Only if they provide up-to-date database dumps. Which, over two weeks later, has not yet happened. Still feeling confident? -- Nils 08:39, 9 May 2006 (EDT)
While dumps are preferable, it's trivial to extract the wikitext in short order. -- Colin 15:32, 9 May 2006 (EDT)

Editorial content about Web Sites

In the past we've debated about whether we should list links to websites. I think that since we are now going to have advertising we must for editorial balance be able to discuss websites about travel.

Some folks have objected that we have to have an objective rule about what sort of content goes in and what stays out. By consensus this objective rule has been that we can have links to primary sources of information on the web.

That's all well and good, however we now will have links somewhere else on the page, which are almost certainly going to be to hotel reservation sites and flight bookers etc. They will mostly not probably be to primary sources.

Therefore we have to have room to editorialize about the quality of these things without having to do some kind of crazy workaround. If I want to write about web sites through which I can book a hotel in London say, I have to do this now:

There are a huge number of websites through which you can book a London hotel, most of them are pretty much the same: You pay up front and take a printed receipt to the hotel. There is one stand-out that just books the reservation normally, allowing you to pay at the hotel, but you'll have to guess which one that is since we don't mention websites on our destination guides. Oh, also watch out for... oops we don't talk about the bad ones either.

Actually, that's not quite the current situation. Really I'd have to write:

There are a huge number of websites through which you can book a London hotel, most of them are pretty much the same: You pay up front and take a printed receipt to the hotel. There is one stand-out that just books the reservation normally, allowing you to pay at the hotel, check out the article on Finding accomodation and do a search for "London". Oh, also watch out for... oops we don't talk about the bad ones either.

So now that we are going to have ads on the pages somewhere I think we have to give ourselves the ability to provide some advice to our readers about which websites are good, which are bad, and which are run-of-the-mill. -- Mark 08:45, 21 April 2006 (EDT)

That only makes some sense for the wikitravel.org website. Internet Brands offline guides might or might not have ads. There will certainly be off-line guides that have no ads or different ads. There are other websites that carry Wikitravel material that have different ads. In the future there could be Wikitravel websites with no ads. I think we should just tell people to read our guide and not the ads. Our readers should know that the ads have no relation to quality but are based on who will pay for them. --elgaard 10:11, 21 April 2006 (EDT)
I think that so long as the advertising is clearly delineated from our content, there is no need to alter our linking policy. People are used to the idea that ads are not endorsed by the media they are attached to. -- Colin 12:09, 21 April 2006 (EDT)

About, FAQ etc.

Don't you guys think that such significant announcement should be more widely publicized and make it to our About and FAQ pages as soon as possible? Since those pages are shared by all language versions, I would like to hear your comments before plunging forward and editing them. Ricardo (Rmx) 15:19, 21 April 2006 (EDT)

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Let me try and attack it first, others edit as appropriate. --Evan 15:46, 21 April 2006 (EDT)

I'm off

I'm thinking of leaving... I do not feel lucky knowing that a company will earn money with the work I did for free... Domie 04:16, 23 April 2006 (EDT)

I actually don't think they will. Of course as Evan knows I'd like for the accounting to be published, but I suspect that on the whole this deal is going to be a money-looser for IB. -- Mark 04:26, 23 April 2006 (EDT)
Companies don't knowing make deals that lose them money. That said, the CC by-sa license very explicitly allows commercial distribution, and that's why it says If you don't want your writing to be edited mercilessly and redistributed at will, then don't submit it here at the bottom of every Edit page...! Jpatokal 04:57, 23 April 2006 (EDT)
That's why I'm not pushing that button again...Domie 05:33, 23 April 2006 (EDT)
Jani, did you read the following paragraph? -- Mark 05:52, 23 April 2006 (EDT)
I did, but I'm not sure I'm cynical enough to agree. I think it's entirely possible to strike a happy compromise that lets Wikitravel keep chugging along and pays the bills. Jpatokal 06:58, 23 April 2006 (EDT)
I think the only reason they are doing it is to prevent a mass-exidus from the travel site they were certainly going to buy, World66, to the one that they weren't originally going to buy. So they had to "buy" the other one too, even if all they apparently get out of it is the domain name and the right to spend money on it, at least the exidus will be official and still "in the house" so to speak. -- Mark 04:26, 23 April 2006 (EDT)
Besides, who are you? Have we ever seen you here before? -- Mark
Domie's an admin on nl: and a big contributor there. --Evan 04:53, 23 April 2006 (EDT)
Domie, you did know that people already were making money from Wikitravel, right? There are mirror operators with ads, there are people selling PDA versions of the guides, and of course the businesses listed in the guides benefit from the attention. Not to mention the hosting services that were taking money to keep the site running. None of them support the development, hardware, etc., that the site needs to keep running.
That's part of making Open Content; you give information away and let people decide what to do with it.
I hope that you reconsider why you started working on Wikitravel in the first place, and whether those things that you were trying to do have changed at all. I think that the site today is just a good a tool for you to use in making free travel guides as it was a week ago. I hope in the coming months it will be a better and better tool because we'll have the resources to make it so.
Anyways, it'd make me a little sad if you weren't going to keep doing work for other travellers, but that's your decision. Let me know if I can do anything. --Evan 04:53, 23 April 2006 (EDT)
Well, I'm not fishing after "please come back"'s. I'll just see how things evolve and as soon as I notice that Wikitravel is a commercial load of shit, I'm off. I hope this sounds fair? Until then, I'll just play policeman on nl.wikitravel, see if everything is goind allright, perhaps even write some articles, but I'll never break my back for it as I was planning to do so, until things come clear... Domie 05:39, 23 April 2006 (EDT)
If someone doesn't want contribute to a guide that can be used commercially, they never should have been contributing to Wikitravel in the first place. So maybe it's good that this has brought attention to the terms Wikitravel operates under. I don't mean that in a "good riddance" way; I mean that with great respect. On my most idealistic days, I want to abolish the whole legal construct of private property and teach the world to live in cooperative communal bliss, and I admire anyone who can actually live by that kind of ideal day to day. But I also see that there are times when making concessions to ownership and the money motive Make Things Work more effectively, and I let pragmatism overrule that idealism. That's why I contribute to Wikitravel, even though I've always known that some people will try to make a buck from my work on it. I don't really like that fact, but I can live with it. And if you can't live with that, then this isn't something you should be giving your time to. Not because we don't want you here, but because you don't really want to be here. - Todd VerBeek 20:29, 23 April 2006 (EDT)
There is a big difference between accepting that the guide that we make can be used commercially by others and accepting that the infrastructure (wikitravel.org) that we use to create the guide is controlled by a corporation. --elgaard 06:45, 24 April 2006 (EDT)
Fair enough, but that's not what Domie was talking about, nor what I was addressing. And the difference you're talking about isn't really all that profound; unless you DIY (which is what I do for a few projects that I want complete control over; I even host my own DNS), the infrastructure is always dependent upon someone else's goodwill to continue it, whether it's Evan and Maj, the Wikimedia Foundation, Internet Brands, etc. Granted, I'd be happier if that "someone" was a couple of people whose principles I have faith in, rather than a bunch of people who have some fiduciary obligations that might conflict with my ideals. But either way, it's still "someone else". Heck, back when it was just Evan and Maj, you had no way of knowing if they might up and sell the domain to someone. {wry grin} Consider: What if Wikitravel didn't exist, and IB announced they were creating and subsidizing it as an open-content project? (A bit like Red Hat with Fedora, or Apple with Darwin; not a perfect analogy I admit.) Some people wouldn't contribute, for understandable reasons. I would. - Todd VerBeek 09:10, 24 April 2006 (EDT)
The wikimedia Foundation would not have sold the domain. If Wikitravel had started by IB creating it, it would be anything like the Wikitravel we have today. And the infrastructure is not necessarily always dependent upon someone else's goodwill to continue it. We could have many Wikitravel sites synchronizing using a distributed versioning control system. --elgaard 09:52, 24 April 2006 (EDT)
That's DIY. Sure, Wikitravel could have been done that way, but it never was. This is not as fundamental a change as you seem to want to make it. - Todd VerBeek 10:09, 24 April 2006 (EDT)

Renaming this article

I'd suggest renaming this from "20 April 2006" into something more informative and permanent, like Wikitravel:Ownership or Wikitravel:Internet Brands or Wikitravel:Business model or something. Ideas? Jpatokal 09:28, 24 April 2006 (EDT)

I've changed the content from our original first-person letter from myself and Maj to more of a third-person description of IB's relationship to the project. Without a signature, "the two of us" and "we" don't seem to have an object. Feel free to edit. --Evan 12:20, 24 April 2006 (EDT)

Last paragraph

I've just rolled back the deletion of the last paragraph, but I changed "is enthusiastic" to "sees". I'm not sure if there's anything in that paragraph that's not backed up by last Thursday's press release. I primarily wanted to state the company's attitude towards the project. Elgaard, will that work for you? --Evan 20:04, 24 April 2006 (EDT)

It is not really based on facts. All we have is a company stating all kinds of good intents. If we see a reastaurant that says on their menu that they use only best ingredients and cook them to perfection, would we just put it on Wikitravel or would we at least taste the food first? We haven't even seen how they handle the request for DB access yet. At least say: "IB have promised ..., claims to ..., etc" --elgaard 20:29, 24 April 2006 (EDT)
So if I meet with the chef, talk with the manager, chat with the staff, and sample the food, and I'm convinced that the menu's accurate, do I still need to get your OK to add this info to the guide? Will you remove it because it's not a mom-n-pop diner, and you mistrust corporate-owned restaurants? Evan's stating what he - someone with first-hand experience with the company - understands to be true. If you have better information or conflicting facts, correct it. If you don't... don't.
What I'm trying to get at here is this: Why assume the worst? Whatever else they are, corporations are still run by people, and people don't respond well to those who fail to respect them as people. So they respond in kind, which proves you were "right all along" and you've just created the kind of antagonistic relationship that I think we'd all rather avoid. One thing I've learned is that people tend to live down to your expectations: treat a kid like an idiot, and he'll flunk out of school; treat someone like a villain, and he'll stab you in the back; etc. So why not try being respectful and open-minded (maybe even looking for what good could come out of the relationship), and save the negative assumptions and distrust for if they actually fail to live up to your expectations? At least then you'll know it was them that soured things, not you. - Todd VerBeek 21:18, 24 April 2006 (EDT)
That's all fine, but I'm trying hard to remind Evan of the old adage "Show, don't tell." It's always more believable when you see somebody walking the walk. -- Mark 02:44, 25 April 2006 (EDT)
I agree. Time will tell. - Todd VerBeek 07:38, 25 April 2006 (EDT)
First Even is not just a Wikitravel contributer, he is also part of the IB company now. It has nothing to do with corporations vs. mon-pop diners. In fact when a mon-n-pop restaurant finds Wikitravel and writes 30 lines about how wonderful their food is then I do the same. Trim it down and concentrate on facts. That does not mean I assume the worst about their food. If Wikitravellers go there and find that the spaghetti is in fact the best in Italy, then we can put it in again. I am not assuming the worst, I just keep an open mind and wait to see how it works out. --elgaard 05:11, 25 April 2006 (EDT)
This is the same "open" mind that says Evan can't be believed because he's one of them now? You may treat different kinds of restaurants fairly, but you're treating Wikitravel (and its employee) differently because it's no longer a mom-n-pop web site... in fact, you insisted that changed the situation profoundly, which doesn't seem like a wait-and-see-the-facts attitude to me. - Todd VerBeek 07:38, 25 April 2006 (EDT)
I did not say that Evan can't be believed. When any of us speak of our employer it is not just a first hand account of a company. I am not treating IB-wikitravel different. If Evan on the old wikitravel had written the same text with "I Evan" instead of "IB" I would also have changed it. Some of the other issues I have raised are also not new. E.g. database dumps have been discussed for more than a year, but the issue is more important now because we have an extra level of policy-making. --elgaard 08:14, 25 April 2006 (EDT)
Elgaard, I thought I'd done a pretty good job with "IB believes, IB thinks that", but I'll try and put in another level of indirection, e.g. "IB has said they believe, IB has said they think". I'd like to include some info about IB's published statements about the project, because that's the best (and currently only) way for Wikitravellers and others to understand the company's plans for the site. Will that work for you? --Evan 07:54, 25 April 2006 (EDT)


Yes, and as long as we reference the source, like the press statement, it is more than just another level of indirection. And I would prefer real links to the sources --elgaard 08:21, 25 April 2006 (EDT)

Goodbye!

After thinking a lot about the latest news, I changed my mind. I've just decided to say goodbye. It was a good time. I will raise my glass to the last years. If anybody wanted to start a project like this (with a leading TEAM) without the plan to sell it out that way at a price of two jobs don't hesitate to drop me a line. -- DerFussi 09:11, 25 April 2006 (EDT)


Outstanding questions

Since this page is getting kind of crowded, I'd like to list out what I see as the outstanding questions about the future for Wikitravel. Note that I'm leaving out less concrete concerns and abstract considerations about what could happen, since for most of those all I can give is reiterations of what IB and the founders think should happen and want to have happen. Here, I'm concentrating more on questions I can actually answer, even if it's "I don't have an answer yet".

  1. Database dumps. The question is if, when, and how db dumps are going to be available. I don't have an answer yet but I hope to soon.
  2. Trademark. I think I've mentioned already that Internet Brands has acquired all of our interest in the Wikitravel Web site, including whatever intellectual property belonged to us personally. I think at some point soon there will be a trademark policy available on site to make the situation more clear.
  3. Logo. IB is trying to figure out what to do about the Wikitravel logo on internetbrands.com. It's under discussion and we'll try to have some decision very soon. Mark, thanks for the "breathing room" on the logo, since that will help a lot.

If there are more, please let me know. --Evan 12:55, 25 April 2006 (EDT)

I think we'd also kind of like to have some back-story on how the discussions came about and what happened when with whom. Also we'd like a definitive statement that we aren't ever going to get to see the books on advertising income, etc. Or better yet a definitive statement that we will. At any rate this cannot stay up in the air. -- Mark 15:18, 25 April 2006 (EDT)
The name "Wikitravel" is used about a thousand times in our articles. The trademark policy need to allow this also when distributing Wikitravel material. For now I assume this use is indirectly licensed by IB (or originally by Evan) by publishing Wikitravel under a CC license (not that they had the choice of another license) --elgaard 18:25, 25 April 2006 (EDT)
If it's working out to be difficult to provide actual answers to the outstanding questions can we at least have an idea of a timeline for answering them? -- Mark 17:54, 30 April 2006 (EDT)
Seconded. It's time for this. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 18:13, 30 April 2006 (EDT)
Bump. -- Ryan 13:38, 1 May 2006 (EDT)
I don't have a timeline for when these outstanding issues will be answered. I can say that they are actively being worked on right now, though. Most likely, we're going to be having a continuing discussion, here -- as these items get dealt with, new ones will come up. --Evan 16:56, 1 May 2006 (EDT)

Interest in starting up a new Wiki?

Is there a team of people interested in starting up a new wiki, this time with a better license that ensures volunteer work is not sold for big money from whoever just happens to run the server? Please post here with email and I will get in touch. cheers marco

Hi Marco. I have a couple of questions:
  • Which of the the outstanding issues makes you think there's something wrong with the current license?
  • Are you upset that it's not easier to grab the content for redistribution? Or are you upset that somebody is going to make some money?
  • Would you feel better if you were to know that it isn't all that much money really?
  • Would you feel better if you could know specifics?
  • Is it the re-assignment of the trademark that bothers you? Probably not, right?
A couple of points:
  • The CC by-sa which gives you full rights to use and redistribute the content here. That has not changed. Go ahead and download all the articles using Special:Export. This is your right. It takes a couple of days if your script pauses for the 20s specified in the robots.txt file (please do obey robots.txt!).
  • Probably when you set up your new Wiki you should change the name Wikitravel to something else. Wikitravel is a trademark of Internet Brands.
  • Make sure that you do the attribution step!!! This is the hardest bit, since the Special:Export dumps don't give you that data directly (it uses Username, not real name).
The robots.txt may be a problem:
Disallow: /en/Special:Allpages
Disallow: /en/Special:Export
Disallow: /en/Special:Imagelist
Of course it would be possible the get and assemble the Allpages by hand, then use a browser and paste all Names into the same Export form. But that seems to be a really bad way of doing it. --elgaard 10:47, 27 April 2006 (EDT)
It's about the best way of doing it that exists at the moment. Of course ideally you'd have a script which parses the Special:Allpages pages, and then does it automatically. Of course you only have to dump Allpages once, after which you'd just follow Recent Changes. Clearly you have to ignore the Disallow lines, but I would encourage following the 20s rule.
But you have to wonder why those Disallow lines were added. The robots.txt are from March 6. The previous copy I have kept is from Nov 21 2005, and does not have all thos Disallow lines. --elgaard 20:21, 30 April 2006 (EDT)
I wouldn't look for conspiracy theories - not having search engines crawl the various special pages was almost certainly done to limit server load. Evan could confirm, but the idea that it was done to stop people from creating Wikitravel clones seems to me to be really, really unlikely. -- Ryan 20:36, 30 April 2006 (EDT)
Yep, I think all special pages are disallowed (at least, that was the intention) since we normally don't want search-engine bots doing silly things like moving pages. Specials also cost a lot in CPU resources. I'll take some time to comb through this list for the more innocuous ones and removing them. But, to answer the question: no, limiting bots from hitting the specials isn't an anti-mirror thing. --Evan 21:32, 30 April 2006 (EDT)
Still I'd like to encourage Marco to hold off and give IB some time to do the right thing(s), since we really do have quite a bit to gain out of this arraingement. -- Mark 11:06, 27 April 2006 (EDT)

Personally, I'm waiting to see for a while longer if IB behaves correctly toward the community. I'm just pleased as punch that Evan and MAJ have gotten what amounts to dream jobs out of this deal, and so I really want it to work. I would also point out that there are lots of ways that you Marco, can profit from this project as well: from printing and selling the guides to negociating with resort owners for discounts or free stays for writing up a good travel guide for their destination to lots of stuff that I haven't thought of. Or have I? -- Mark 09:52, 27 April 2006 (EDT)

I agree with Mark's assessment. While I have serious misgivings about this whole thing (and Evan and Maj, the misgivings are about IB, not about you or your decision), it's not clear that there is a problem that needs fixing here. A wait-and-see attitude seems indicated; if IB does keep their hands off content, distribution, etc., the alternative Wiki seems unnecessary, and if not, there'll be more enthusiasm for creating it than there is now. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 09:56, 27 April 2006 (EDT)

Right for disclosure of the Contracts

I'm very seriously thinking about leaving Wikitravel for the reasons I have given in my essay on de:. Most of them also have been pointed out in the discussion above, so I need not to repeat them here. I don't like precipitous decissions, that's why I want to check out all pros and cons without hurry, first.

We have heard a lot of ideas, opinions and good will anouncements from Evan and Maj during the last days. As usual, everything sounds quite fine. At the other hand, we still know very few about ib's real plans and rights on Wikitravel. I think, the community has the right to get to know the hard facts, too. For the sake of transparency, I ask Evan, May and ib to discover their contracts related to Wikitravel.

-- Hansm 11:07, 30 April 2006 (EDT)

Hans, thanks for jumping into the conversation here. Besides the details I already gave on the talk page for your essay, are you looking for some particular information?
Hopefully I can recap: Internet Brands owns the Wikitravel trademark, the domains, and the servers this site runs on, as well as any other rights Maj and I may have built up in the site. The plan is to continue to grow the site, add new features and hardware as needed, and leave the community with the decisions about structuring and developing the guide. The hope is to have some form of on-site advertising at some point in the future, with advertising designs informed by a community discussion. If you're looking for particulars (like, say, exactly when will advertising be added? Exactly what kind of ads will be installed?), I'll say right now that few of those decisions have been made yet.
My question for you: under what conditions would you return to work on Wikitravel again? --Evan 17:22, 1 May 2006 (EDT)
It seems pretty clear that he's asking for disclosure of your contracts with IB (although he wrote discover, that's an easy enough typo to make). -- Mark 03:20, 2 May 2006 (EDT)
That was not a typo but my unsufficient English. But sure, Mark did understand me perfectly right: Please disclosure the contracts. In my opinon, one of the biggest damages that deal did to the Wikitravel project was a loss of confidence into Evan and Maj. Secret negotiations without participating or at least informing the community in advance is not simply ignoring a majority, but willful deception. Even if it should turn out that the advertising is not as awful as many fear and even if ib realy should care about our policies, one thing will have a malicous impact to the community for a longer time: Can we trust in Evan (and Maj)?
For now (and also after some experiences during the last time), my answer is: No, we cannot! If you would make your deal with ib transparent to the community, you could win back some of the confidence. I do not say all of it, this would need more time. Me personaly, I'm not interested neither in how much you had spend for maintaining the server, nor in how much you have got for selling all that stuff nor in how much you earn in your new job. But I have been asked that on de:. Maybe, there are some others, too, that would like to now how much the value of Wikitravel is.
Until now, we know that you have sold the rights for the domain and the trademark. What else? Above, you say you have sold "any other rights Maj and I may have built up in the site". What exactly does that mean? What do you think are the rights you have built up in the site? Did you sell ideas that did come out of the community? Did you hold patents on ideas related to Wikitravel? There is still a lot of veiling fog around all that questions. How can we be sure that you already have told us the whole truth? Maybe you follow an information strategie of small slices, each of them just small enough that the community can swallow it.
You did not yet tell us the whole story. What have been the points that have brought you exactly to this decision? What other possibilities did you check out? All this has been asked in #Process & Reasons and has been repeated in #Outstanding questions. No answer yet.
I'm sory for that distrust, but it was the intransparency of your decision making that has produced it. After irrevocable fact have been made, please at least disclosure the contracts to make things clearer.
-- Hansm 06:16, 2 May 2006 (EDT)
I thought that you were looking for some particular information about the future of Wikitravel. The various legal papers for this transaction aren't going to be made public at any time (nor are any of our other personal legal papers). If you have some particular questions, please, ask them.
As to your questions above: "any other rights" here means some fuzzy ideas like "goodwill". It just means that if we acquired other rights during the last few years, then those have been transferred, too. I haven't applied for any patents ever, including for software I've written for Wikitravel (which has been released as Free Software under the GPL). The content of the site, created by the community, remains available to anyone under the CC by-sa 1.0 license and/or any other licenses granted by the creator(s).
I think I've said before: Maj and I have made some decisions about what to do with our relationship with Wikitravel. That was our decision to make -- not yours. We think we made a good decision, but if you don't, that's your choice. I'd really like it if you'd come back to work on Wikitravel, since you used to be such a valuable contributor. However, if that's not what you want to do, I'll understand. --Evan 06:44, 2 May 2006 (EDT)
At least, this is a clear response. Thanks. -- Hansm 04:46, 3 May 2006 (EDT)

Comments From the IB Team

Dear Wikitravel community:

We appreciate the depth and insight of the comments and questions in this conversation. The concern of this community for Wikitravel is one of the things that excites us about this site. There have been some comments regarding greater transparency about our plans for Wikitravel. We’ll try to be responsive here. We look forward to frequent participation in community dialogue such as this.

First, our goals are the community’s goals: to see Wikitravel become a free, complete, up-to-date and reliable worldwide travel guide. In fact, our main goal is to help accelerate this process. We’re doing this by investing in technology infrastructure and allowing Evan and Michele to focus exclusively on the project. We think the community is doing a fantastic job with Evan and Michele’s leadership, and we have no plans to change any of this. We’re very grateful to them and the entire community. The site is terrific and getting better everyday.

At some future point, we think Wikitravel may be able to pay for itself and even make a profit. We would be delighted if that comes true. Revenues would come from some type of context sensitive links, clearly labeled as advertising. Wikia and World66 currently do this, although we’re hopeful that more elegant deployments may be coming to market in the future.

As for what ownership means: it means we’ve acquired the trademark rights and domains for the site and the operating expenses for running the sites. We think these assets may become valuable in the future, although there is certainly no guarantee. We understand and are obviously comfortable with the open source nature of the editorial submissions and the underlying copyright implications.

Working closely with Evan and Michele, we are currently wrestling with some policy issues that are new to all of us. We’ve heard the concerns in these discussions and are assessing them.

As we invest to make Wikitravel an even bigger success, we do have requests of the community. First, please do not make assumptions that we have some hidden agenda. Working with Evan and Michele, we’re communicating our collective truths about the project. Second, please recognize that we are aligned and want Wikitravel and World66 to remain the world’s leading community driven travel guides. Third, please recognize we are reluctant to take steps that erode the trademarks or facilitate diminution of the Wikitravel brand. In short, we want this website, driven by you, to be a huge success.

We’re sure a skeptic can parse our words here and find fault (wikis are good for that). But our intentions are clear. We want Wikitravel to thrive. --BackroadWayfarer 13:01, 2 May 2006 (EDT)

Hi BackroadWayfarer. Thanks for making a statement. We'll be looking forward to further participation from your team in this discussion. Meanwhile please consider signing your talk-page posts -- doing so makes it slightly easier to follow a discussion. If you are logged in you can sign using -- ~~~~. Also considering the relative importance of your position vis-a-vis the site it might just be a good idea to fill in the real name information in your preferences. Of course that's strictly optional.
As for us Wikitravellers, no single one of us can speak for the others. However, I think you'll find that on the whole we are quite ammenable to this arrangement so long as we are provided enough information to understand what exactly we are getting out of it, and what problems if any might arise from IB's ownership of the trademark, etc. As you have hopefully understood from the ongoing discussion there are a number of simple and hopefully painless steps which the company can take immediately to re-assure those among us who have doubts as to your intentions. I would strongly encourage you to have the courage to take those steps as quickly as possible, or to lay out a timeline for doing so.
Thanks again for having taken the time to make this statement. -- Mark 03:15, 2 May 2006 (EDT)
Oh I'd just like to make an observation which might help you understand us and vise versa. It would seem that you (IB) really like to do things with a certain level of secrecy. I can understand that that's important sometimes in business. I would caution you however that secrecy is probably not the best way to handle this particular property. Please consider being as open with us as absolutely possible. -- Mark 03:26, 2 May 2006 (EDT)
Hi John - reiterating and adding to what Mark said above, the community process here depends on discussion and inclusion. Most of us realize that this approach is new to Internet Brands and we're willing to work with you, but that requires that you engage in discussion with us. In this case, there are a lot of questions above, but in many cases there is no comment other than "we're working on it". The fact that "we" does not mean the Wikitravel community (something you are now a vital part of) strikes me as a concern. It would be advantageous to everyone if you could engage in a collaborative relationship so that we can collectively work to resolve outstanding issues. For example, regarding database dumps, are you considering other options, are you simply against the idea, or what is the problem? It's OK for you to say "we don't want to do that because X", but some kind of discussion is important. Similarly for advertising, it would be great for someone to say "we have no idea how that will work" or "we envision something like this", just to get the discussion going. Perhaps someone in the community will have some good ideas that you might not have considered - discussions work two ways.
There are going to be people who refuse to contribute to a project that is commercially backed, and there are going to be people who would contribute no matter what, but I think the majority will only contribute to a project that they believe in. I believed in Wikitravel as it existed under Maj and Evan, but their decision to relinquish ownership without discussing it has definitely lessened my (and other people's) enthusiasm. However, if your company engages the Wikitravel community and shows a willingness to work collaboratively that would alleviate my concerns, and the concerns of many others as well I think. -- Ryan 01:24, 4 May 2006 (EDT)

Hi Mark and Ryan. Thanks for your comments. As Evan indicates below, we've been actively working with Maj and him to understand all of the issues and develop some points of view. We think we're making good progress and they will have some more detailed thoughts to discuss pretty soon.

We're trying to limit the scope of our involvement to a few very high level issues that involve us. We're very confident in Evan and Michele's leadership, as well as that of the Admin group and key contributors. Over the years, your leadership group has navigated things very well.

We understand that there is a public process for working out issues on wiki sites. At the same time, we also see that one reason the process works is most Wikitravellers take their time to think problems through privately, then express fully-formed opinions and put forward well-thought-out proposals. We like this process; it keeps the level of discussion very practical. We're doing the same thing right now -- taking our time to get our ideas straight before we put them before the community. We especially don't want to alarm community members with half-cooked concepts that we ourselves end up not supporting. We'll continue to post thoughts here ourselves, as well as rely on Evan and Michele as a primary means of communicating our collective thinking to the community.

As we move ahead, there will always been more and new issues to discuss. We appreciate and respect the transparent nature of wiki policy making. We are most hopefully that the community will view the resources and commitment that we bring to the table very positively. -- John/Internet Brands 13:28, 8 May 2006 (EDT)

The biggest problem is that the buyout was done in complete secrecy, and that in the first announcement, current community policies ("no advertisement") were trampled upon. This does not fill me with any trust in your promises that nothing will change, that "the community" will still be truly free to make their own decisions, that you will basically pursue a hands-off policy. You do say that eventually, Wikitravel will be ad-ridden. What if the contributors do not want that? Of course it's not in your interest to do that now, that would alienate people even more, and wouldn't it be nice if the free labour would get to it already and fill the gaps first before you drive them away? Yes, I am being very sarcastic. But the whole thing could have been done a whole lot better. Evan screwed up big time by the handling of this mess, and so far, I haven't read anything that convinces me that you guys will actually provide any benefit to Wikitravel whatsoever. Adding ads to the websites of Wikitravel is not a benefit. -- Nils 08:49, 9 May 2006 (EDT)
Unfortunately what the contributors want may not always be possible. By my conservative estimates, Wikitravel's now generating well over 100 GB of traffic per month and has hardware and maintenance requirements to match. The monetary and financial burden for this falls entirely on Evan & Maj, and they've figured out a way to keep the site going and get paid for it too, which I think is pretty remarkable. And by the way, where is that "no advertisement" community policy written?
As for advance notice, most companies -- like IB -- do place an unfortunate premium on secrecy, and Evan can't disclose all the details, or any of the details, in advance without risking the whole deal. Also note that there are no ads around here yet, Evan's just saying that they may appear someday, which is just the kind of advance notice that you're asking for!
My two cents are that, while I agree that this could have been handled better, as long as Evan sticks to the 'contract' at the bottom of every page we edit -- in other words, everything is and remains Creative Commons-licensed -- then he's still fulfilling Wikitravel's mission. Jpatokal 09:08, 9 May 2006 (EDT)
100 GB is not a lot. 1000GB is $7.95/month at Canaca where Wikitravel was hosted. I would have sponsored that if necessary or we could have sold a few T-shirts. The "no advertisement" policy is at Wikitravel:Goals_and_non-goals: "However, blatant advertising is not welcome..." --elgaard 16:45, 9 May 2006 (EDT)
Just to point out, it's not even 100 Gb yet. I know, because I am running a private mirror (using Special:recentchanges and Special:Export. That said the problem with a retail hosting solution like Canaca is not the size of the site but the bandwidth, and most importantly the guaranteed uptime. They were offering a guarantee of of 99.9% uptime, but delivering more like 99.1%. In professional hosting you always wind up paying an order of magnitude for another "9" after the decimal. Hosting firms which offer 99.999% uptime cost something like 3500USD per month.
Of course I do agree with all of you that this was handled badly in that it was all done in the dark, but I agree with Jpatokal that so long IB respect the license then we Wikitravellers have nothing to worry about (note I mention a mirror and some knowledge about hosting).
I'd also like to reiterate that I'm very pleased with this deal for a number of reasons, and want to do what I can to make it work. I think we are getting a lot out of it: The hosting, Evan's and MAJ's time full-time, potentially leagal support and graphic design support. -- Mark 18:22, 9 May 2006 (EDT)
Mark, I think you're confusing the bandwidth (Gb/month) with the file size of the data. You can see our traffic stats at http://wikitravel.org/webalizer/web/ ; note that it leaves out images and other binary files. --Evan 19:04, 9 May 2006 (EDT)
You are absolutely right. I was about to correct myself when I noticed that you had corrected me. -- Mark 19:17, 9 May 2006 (EDT)
You've been a real driving force in this project, elgaard, and I really appreciate your offer of support and financial help. I'm glad that you're willing to put that kind of commitment behind Wikitravel. We do about 250Gb in traffic each month, but bandwidth has never been our choke point. With a dynamic site like Wikitravel, it's disk I/O and CPU that gate your system.
We haven't been hosted at Canaca for almost half a year, by the way; our heavy usage was crashing their servers, and they asked us to look somewhere else for hosting options. We've been doubling in traffic about every 4-6 months. We were on a dedicated server (which was a lot more than $7.95...), and upgraded that, and upgraded it again, then had to start looking at more servers. Since the announcement, even with the extensive caching we do, we're running on two big Solaris servers at the Internet Brands network center. It's not going to be too long before we outgrow that setup, either, but fortunately IB is committed to supporting Wikitravel through its growth.
I understand that people are upset that we didn't consult them in making this decision. I think that many of the people who are concerned about it aren't actually that opposed to the end result. I know you may not agree, but I hope you can comprehend why we felt we had to make this decision ourselves. As founders and maintainers of this Web site for almost 3 years, however, we felt we had a special obligation to find a long-term solution to support the growth and continuation of the project. This is the solution we found, and we think it's going to carry the project pretty far. --Evan 18:57, 9 May 2006 (EDT)

IB and copyvios

Is there any interest in IB's part in helping to prevent non-compliant use of Wikitravel content? While a nice note may be able to solve a lot of the cases, I imagine IB has access to a lawyer who can draw up a "hey, that's illegal" letter better than any of us can. I see this as a potential asset IB brings to the table. Would IB do that? Would anybody else but me think that's a good idea? (Maybe I just like the idea of siccing lawyers on wrongdoers a bit too much.) -- Jonboy 21:01, 5 May 2006 (EDT)

News on outstanding questions

I'm glad to say that there's been progress on several of the outstanding questions on this page, and I wanted to bring people up-to-date.

  1. I think this has been covered pretty well elsewhere, but for completeness, IB will be putting together a trademark policy page that will be on the site soon (within a few weeks at the outside, we hope).
  2. For the logo, we've reached out to Mark on using the current logo elsewhere under a separate license. So with luck this should be worked out in the medium-term future, also.
  3. Finally, we're working out the details of an experiment to provide XML dumps. We're actively working on a policy and technical details that we intend to share next week for community review, and hope to implement shortly thereafter.

Thanks for everyone's patience; there will be more info coming up soon. --Evan 12:01, 6 May 2006 (EDT)

mysqldump --xml if ( mysql >= 5.0 ). -- Nils 08:23, 9 May 2006 (EDT)
So, where are the dumps? -- Nils 03:51, 12 May 2006 (EDT)

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