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Wikitravel talk:Routes Expedition

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Intention Statement

Excuse the extremely long prose here but it's greatly needed...

Before we get into some serious discussion on the scope of this expedition, let me (being the one who brought this subject up in the pub) state my original intentions (just so you understand and to clear misconceptions). Wikitravel is a world-wide travel guide...built in collaboration by Wikitravellers from around the globe. When browsing the requests for articles page I noticed a desire for a "Highways and Interstates travel guide". As I am an American, I thought of how many tens of millions of Americans take road trips each year. Since this is a travel guide, I thought that maybe guides to interstates and a few other major highways would be helpful and within the scope of what Wikitravel is...a travel guide. When people go on long road trips, they will be going through numerous regions and to me, having to dig through numerous regions just to find something interesting or fun to do is a long and tedious task. Furthermore, what may be listed in an article for a major city could be on the opposite side of town from where the interstate passes through and at the same time something fun and/or interesting might be right off of the interstate but buried deep within a city article. To me the idea of creating articles for interstates was mostly about convenience...both for the someone just looking for an hour break on a trip...or someone looking to take a leisurely trip. If you take a look at what I did with Interstate 4(which I could still add much more to), you'd understand how much it differs from having to delve through numerous region and city articles. Someone who printed the guide and is on the road could go "look the next exit is the world's largest McDonald's...let's eat" whereas that is buried deep in the Orlando article and then they'd have to figure out where in the city it is...see what I mean by convenience? I did not intend that this become an encyclopedic "the next exit is in 14.2 miles and is blah blah"...no, I only want to list major exits of ones with attractions! The problem comes with fairness...Wikitravel is a world-wide travel guide. Now we need to make articles for highways in other countries...fine. The purpose, however, was to provide a guide to major highways that are oft-traveled by people on road trips (like the US Interstate system). Some have the misconception that we need to create a guide for every highway in every country...NO! Unless there's something special, we should stick to places with a "car culture" and where road trips are frequent and these articles would be of great use. Is this plan ambitious...absolutely! However, weren't the founders of Wikitravel ambitious to think that articles for thousands of destinations world-wide could ever get to the point of being useful? This is a project...err, expedition...which will take some time (maybe a few years), but once completed it will be a great asset for Wikitravel. If you still don't feel this belongs here, maybe someone could guide me through the process of creating a wiki website and I'll start Wikiroute for my ambitions. I just wanted to make my intentions clear before we start discussing things. I'm no authoritative figure around here (and not really trying to be) but I felt compelled to mention this and put it at the top of the talk page since I brought up the idea and it seems like there's zero direction to this new expedition. I hope you now have a better idea of this. We've talked a lot already in the pub, so please only reply if it's notable (we don't need 50 replies to this too)...otherwise skip to the next header AHeneen 04:50, 7 December 2008 (EST)

Wikitravel:Routes Expedition

I have many thoughts on this issue, and am not necessarily sold on either proposal. But could we please move our discussions out of the pub and to a "Wikitravel talk:Routes Expedition" page. I'd rather create new sections to discuss specific issues, since these two discussions are covering many points, and are a bit unwieldy. --Peter Talk 16:13, 6 December 2008 (EST)

plunge forward? :)--Stefan (sertmann) Talk 16:22, 6 December 2008 (EST)
Expedition begun! AHeneen 02:02, 7 December 2008 (EST)
I do not agree with the stated goals of the Routes Expedition, and my proposal does not exactly jive with what is written there. It makes it sound as if the idea to create articles for every highway already has community approval. I wouldn't mind this discussion being moved somewhere, but if we move it there I'd like to see the main expedition page totally re-written. Actually I'd like to see it re-written whether this discussion goes there or not. Texugo 02:09, 7 December 2008 (EST)
Yes, I think we should work on discussions at Wikitravel talk:Routes Expedition before we actually write the expedition page. --Peter Talk 02:16, 7 December 2008 (EST)
Ok, well I was working on things while you two were thinking about this article. I left some things that aren't really controversial on the main page. Heres what I had in mind for a few of the sections:

Goals The goal of this expedition is to create reliable guides pertaining to major highways of regions where there are high numbers of travellers by road. To achieve this goal, we must:

  • Create a page listing all major highways of nations where there are high numbers of travelers by road. To begin with, this probably should include: the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.
  • Create usable articles for all major highways of these regions.
  • Create guides which focus on amusement, sights, and attractions within a reasonable distance of the highway.(of course, this is subjective by geography)

Non-Goals

  • We are not aiming to create stubs to simply have an article on each highway. Stubs will be deleted.
  • Guides will not be a replacement for articles concerning the cities, governmental districts, or regions through which the highway passes.
  • We are not aiming to create articles with so little information as to be impractical for the user.
  • We are aiming neither to be encyclopedic with regard to details about the highway nor list every single exit on the highway.

Priorities

  • The biggest should be to attract more members, as it is usually local knowledge that is most helpful in doing this.
  • Decide on appropriate templates for these articles. (see guidelines below)
  • As articles are created, route maps and logos will need to be created.
  • Create articles.

AHeneen 02:50, 7 December 2008 (EST)

Discussion on creation of route pages

this was swept in from the pub on December 7, 2008 by AHeneen. Originally under the title "US Interstates".

I noticed a few days ago "highways and interstates" in the Requests for articles page. Being something I am interested in, I went ahead and started an article for Interstate 4. The reason I am in the Traveller's Pub is to ask what an appropriate template would be. Itinerary seems natural, but would it be fine to leave out the "get in" and "drink" sections altogether? They don't seem to be practical. There's only two other interstate articles on WT: Interstate 10 and Interstate 95(vfd). I'm just looking for a little feedback on how to structure the articles before more are created...that's all. Thanks! AHeneen 00:53, 5 December 2008 (EST)

To me an itinerary is a trip you would choose to make, and then find out what there is to see on that trip. I may choose to drive Route 66, and then want to know what there is to see. I may choose to travel the Trans-Siberian Railway, and I want to know what there is on the way. An itinerary should naturally fit into the sentence "On my last travels, I travelled ...", and not sound odd. Anything else is just a road. I'm not saying roads shouldn't be in Wikitravel. Maybe they should, people travel on roads too, and maybe Wikitravel should provide information for them. But, if we do, we should think of the information people want on a road, and develop a template for that, and not shoehorn it in to something else --Inas 01:03, 5 December 2008 (EST)
Per Wikitravel:What is an article?, an article about a road would be inappropriate, but an article that is either a region or itinerary article named after the road is fine. Route 66 is a great article, but it's about traveling on Route 66, not about the road itself. Your Dalton Highway article is similar - it's a guide to traveling on the Dalton. Trouble occurs when someone tries to start an article for every single highway and interstate - those aren't valid article subjects except as itineraries, and in the past consensus has been that an itinerary "stub" is not valuable and usually get deleted unless it's a famous itinerary like the Inca Trail. -- Ryan • (talk) • 01:54, 5 December 2008 (EST)

Well, if you read the Requests for articles page, there was a bit of support for such articles. Eventually, this wouldn't just be a guide about one interstate, we'd have numerous articles made about interstates. The I-4 article is certainly not complete. What I had in mind was creating an article like an itinerary, but a little different. Listed in the article would be things to see and do, as well as listing major interchanges which (as more interstates became articles) people could click and find things to do along that interstate. My rationale behind this is that lots of users on Wikitravel are Americans and most Americans go on road trips every once in a while. Sure one can use the state articles and then browse the regions or cities through which the interstate passes, but I was thinking that interstate articles would make the information more concise for users. Say I am heading from Atlanta to Chicago...rather than click and browse regions of Georgia, Tenessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, I could use the Interstate 75 article to see what's between Atlanta and Chattanooga, then click on the link to the Interstate 24 article to see what's between Chattanooga and Nashville, then click on the Interstate 65 article to see what there is to do between Nashville and Chigago. To Inas...these would not be an itinerary that you would want to do (as in being particularly interesting), but once there are a sufficient number of interstate articles, you could create your own itinerary...like I said, lots of Americans go on road trips each year, and such guides would provide a means of figuring out what to do on them. I simply started w/I-4 because that's what I'm familiar with. With regards to Wikitravel:What is an article?, these articles would be like an itinerary...but need to be a little different. The "get in" and "drink" don't seem like practical sections and I was wondering what should be added before setting a precedent for other articles. Since this is a first in a series of articles on interstates, I was trying to decide on an appropriate template and dropped a few lines here in the Traveler's pub to get some feedback (because I know this is a good place to get some). Do you understand now? AHeneen 02:31, 5 December 2008 (EST)

I'm willing to let the article develop and see how it turns out, but I'm not at all a fan of the idea because I really can't think of any useful kinds of information which don't already have a rightful place in either the city or region articles. I think if we have pages for highways, they might ought to be reference pages, containing nothing but a list of links to the pages of everything along a given highway, from terminus to terminus. (The Wikitravel community usually frowns on list pages a bit though.) Texugo 05:56, 5 December 2008 (EST)
Service areas on toll roads would be one useful piece of information that does not belong in a city or region article. LtPowers 11:34, 5 December 2008 (EST)
I understand the idea, but I guess I'm not clear on how articles on interstates wouldn't be an itinerary. We definitely don't want a situation where information is being duplicated (and I don't think you're proposing that) so you could (for example) have an article for Interstate 5 that points out interesting sites along the way, but links to the appropriate city or region article for more detailed information. There isn't really a template defined for itineraries since they're all different, but what distinguishes them is that they're about a linear journey instead of a specific destination - it sounds like that encapsulates what you're envisioning, with the caveat that links to other interstates would allow users to follow different branches of the journey. Additionally, I think it's important that we not encourage people to create stub article about every single road that's out there - if someone wants to take the time to create detailed articles that's fine, but Wikitravel:What is an article? is clear that a proliferation of stubs for roads would be subject to deletion. -- Ryan • (talk) • 10:45, 5 December 2008 (EST)

As a travel site, it is understandable that users will be looking for information on specific roads and/or highways. See our helpful user who thought Interstate 95 should have an article, even if just a stub. While the convention here has been to focus on destinations rather than focusing on the methods one takes to get around, highway information seems to be an area where we have a gap between what users are looking for and what we have available for them. It's all well and good to explain how that you can get to Peoria (Illinois) by taking I-74, but it seems we have users who work the other way around -- "where can I go if I'm traveling on I-74"? Minimally, I think every major (i.e., national-level expressway) highway should at least have a bare list of destinations along the route -- sort of a disambiguation page, or like what we've done for Great Lakes. LtPowers 11:34, 5 December 2008 (EST)

It is undeniable that users will look for all sorts of information in any travel guide, and the onus is on the guide to have a reasonable organizational structure that makes that information available and easy to use. Road-based travel guides are helpful, as shown by the popularity of The Milepost in Alaska, the various road atlas guides out there, etc. However, it's not clear that a guide can offer both a road-based organizational structure AND a destination-based organizational structure, so Evan, Maj, and many of the original contributors set this site up to use the latter and discourage the former EXCEPT as itineraries. This is just my opinion, but while I think it's fine to create articles like Dalton Highway and Route 66, I think creating stubs for major roads is a Wikitravel:Slippery slope that would lead to a confusing dichotomy in how Wikitravel is organized so I'm wary of the idea. -- Ryan • (talk) • 11:51, 5 December 2008 (EST)
Well I wouldn't want to see large-scale construction of stubs just for the sake of having them. But I think a wiki can have multiple ways of seeing travel running in parallel and in support of each other. LtPowers 11:57, 5 December 2008 (EST)

So those who think that route articles are a bad idea in general, what do you think users who search for Interstate 84 (for example) should see? Should they see a redlink with some search results? Or a page that will at least give them a list of options for destinations? LtPowers 18:58, 5 December 2008 (EST)

I'd like to see an experimental article for an Interstate that does list all the cities and places it goes through just to see how well it works out. Here's my problems with just listing cities:

  • There are Hotels way outside of cities that are not currently handled properly. For example, some of the hotels along I-5 in California are officially listed in Bakersfield which is 20 miles away.
  • Interstates often purposely avoid cities. So do we list a city that is five miles off-course?
  • Interstates are often insanely boring. "Stuff along the Interstate to do" is not currently well-handled anywhere in Wikitravel. But boy does interstate travel need a list like this.
  • We don't need to duplicate existing city articles within the Interstate article. Just point to the city article.

So I'd like to see us plunge forward with one or two non-itinerary articles just to see how well or badly it works out. For example, I'd like to see one for I-5 in California. -- Colin 21:49, 5 December 2008 (EST)

Hi, Colin. I moved your comment up here, hope you don't mind. =) LtPowers 22:01, 5 December 2008 (EST)
I think Colin understands my rationale. Anyways, the Interstate 4 guide is largely set up as I'd like it (still a bit more can be added). There is a list of exits and what is off them: towns, attractions. There is a list of "see & do" set up as a kind of "what fun things there are to do along the highway" section and an "eat" section with noteworthy places/areas to eat (because there are signs along the highway that list food at each exit). Anyways, any feedback? What could be changed? AHeneen 23:19, 5 December 2008 (EST)
I'm very leery of this proposal, and tend to think that this would be unnecessary for most routes. A page dedicated to I-95, for example, would strike me as both unworkable and unnecessary, since there are way too many interesting things to see along it, and people aren't using it to sightsee anyway. Roads like these seem to me purely functional. The Dalton Highway is a pretty good example of a road that lends itself well to a travel itinerary. So would the West Virginia Coal Heritage Trail [1]. I-80 on the other hand, seems like it would be a pretty pointless article. (Route 66 actually isn't an exception—it's not a highway, it's a popular travel itinerary.) So, I remain unconvinced that we should set out to have such articles for the US highway system.
While there are service stations and hotels/motels right on the roads, which are not covered in our destination guides, I'm not sure there is any compelling reason to cover them at all. Service stations as well as lodgings are regularly spaced and do not differ much from each other. While I suppose we could explain that one has a McDonalds, but hold out for the next, which has a Wendys, this seems like we are doing too much. If someone is wondering whether to stop now or wait for the next station, they probably aren't going to refer to Wikitravel, because it's just not that important. Quality of lodgings along the road can vary, but I don't think we're the site to try and help travelers plan that. We're not a review site—other sites do a fine job of this, and I see no reason for mission creep.
So in short, I'm very much not sold, worried about content duplication, distraction from our goals. But I'm also happy to experiment. Lets just keep the work on this idea limited to our experimental article Interstate 4 for the time being. I'll try and add some thoughts to that article's discussion page. --Peter Talk 18:13, 7 December 2008 (EST)
In such a case, we could create them like we do for huge cities. List the most important things on the main page for the highway, and create a "segment article" like districts are in huge cities. For example: Interstate 95 article lists major attractions, cities, and junctions. We could also have links for: "Interstate 95 from Maine through Deleware", "Interstate 95 from Deleware through Virginia", & "Interstate 95 from North Carolina through Florida".
We do not need to explain restaurants in the same way that city articles do not list every restaurant in the city. See: Interstate 4. With regards to the US, at least, Interstates have signs noting gas, sleep, and food at every exit...so there would be no need to list such in the article. On the other hand, if there's an interesting or notable restaurant it can be listed.
Well, I'm glad you're willing to let this continue. I'll need to focus on getting the I-4 article together, in a better format, and more and will gladly appreciate some criticism/suggestions. AHeneen 18:45, 7 December 2008 (EST)
Peter, can I reiterate my question from above: What, exactly, do you feel a user should see when she searches for (say) "Interstate 95" in Wikitravel? LtPowers 19:21, 7 December 2008 (EST)

In lieu of highway articles, how about..?

I have been kicking around this idea in my head for some time now, and the above conversation makes it a good time to throw it out there. I don't think creating a separate article for every highway is necessarily a good idea because it will duplicate a ton of information from city and regional articles. However, it would be a convenient thing for the user to have an easy way to see all the city articles along a given route. I do think this information is highly relevant to the traveller, so my proposed solution is to use a template to make a tidy little box for destination articles that shows highways that pass through that destination plus 1) the next destination in each direction for which wikitravel has an article, and 2) the next major destination in each direction. As an example, in the article for Oklahoma City, we could have a little box that looks like this:

Amarillo ・・・・・ Weatherford ・・・・ W noframe E ・・・・ Shawnee ・・・・・ Little Rock
Wichita ・・・・・ Edmond ・・・・ N noframe S ・・・・ Norman ・・・・・ Dallas-Fort Worth
Wichita Falls ・・・・・ Chickasha ・・・・ SW noframe NE ・・・・ Stroud ・・・・・ Tulsa

This would give users the option to navigate through our site as if they are following a highway, and would be more useful for trip-planning because, unlike having different articles for different highways, this offers a visual interface which allows you to change highways at any junction. My suggestion would be that it go at the bottom of the Get out section, so that it's always in a predictable place. And yes, I realize that will make it look a little similar to some of the templates in use on Wikipedia, but I think this information is very important and useful, especially for countries as big and prone to car-travel as the US or Canada. Feedback? Texugo 03:11, 5 December 2008 (EST)

I like this idea. The only thing that makes it considerably different from what I have proposed with the highways is that in large cities, many attractions, food, and sleep is far away from the interstate. Additionally, many region or county articles will list things that are not included in the article of the city that's on the highway. Additionally, having individual interstate articles will prevent the need to print many individual town articles for travelers. Yes, it's hard work and will take a year or two for users to contribute to make these articles, but in my opinion, it's worth it and will be a great asset for Wikitravel. This article is far from complete(still needs more info & better formatting), but see what I've done with this route section. Once I've worked on it a bit, there will be a comprehensive guide to all exits. The individual cities & towns along the interstate are given links to explore what's available in them. Eventually, the "see" & "do" sections will be expanded and placed in order by exit. I was originally thinking (in the above topic) of either not having "eat","sleep", and"drink" sections, but now think it would be better to highlight a few notable places. I'm not sure though...it's not a problem on a 132 mile long interstate...but when it comes to Interstates like 95, 80, 10, 5, etc., having such sections could get lengthy. Before I finish, the interstate articles would complement your suggested box at the bottom. Anyways, it's late in the night for me, so I'll let others voice their opinion and work on this later. AHeneen 04:35, 5 December 2008 (EST)
Let's try to keep this thread about my proposal please, if possible. Your idea has its own thread above. Texugo 06:39, 5 December 2008 (EST)
  • Hmmm... In principle, I like the idea. However... Few little things to come to mind.
  • How do we keep the list consistent across conencted articles. E.g. if we have a hypothetical Highway 42 with places A, B, C, E, F, and G, what happens when someone adds place D? It not only needs the Highway Box adding with points A, C, E and G, but also C and E need updating. My concern is that we could end up with missing points and inconsistencies. At least with a highway article, it is a little easier to keep the connections clean.
  • Do we have to call it a Highway box. I know a lot of people know the term, but in Europe we have (allegedly) Euroroutes, the UK has Motorways and some fairly major trunk roads of other types, etc. Perhaps "Route Box" would be a more generic name? (Yes, I know this is being picky, but you did ask! ;) )
  • Is there any reason we can't use the existing Itinery idea for routes? I just wonder how useful a box that appears at the bottom of the linked pages is. If I were doing a trip in the UK from, say, Durham to Blackpool; I know what roads I am likely to travel along and might want to do some sightseeing on the way. I guess I could use a map, look up place names, then look up wikitravel articles. However, it would be nice to me able to call up a page on the A66 and be able to see a list of places along the way, which an Itinery page would let me do in an easy fashion.

Anyway, I'm sure there are ways around these things, so am quite happy to be told I'm wrong, or to argue things :) Nrms 07:48, 5 December 2008 (EST)

To respond quickly to your points:
  • Once we got it going, I don't think maintenance would really be any more of a pain than it is with our breadcrumb navigation, and if somebody is a real whiz we could get it partially automated like the breadcrumb navigation is.
  • I don't care what the template is called really-- it doesn't need to be titled in the article anyway. Route box works just fine and has the advantage of being general enough to include train lines as well.
  • The discussion about having itinerary articles for highways, etc., is above, and I think this box would be useful whether or not we allow highway articles as a general rule. I do think, for example, if you want to find a hotel in a small town near a big city on a certain highway to facilitate an early start in that direction, etc., that this box would be useful. Or if you are planning a longer trip for which multiple routes exist, you could (without consulting maps and looking each place up individually) walk yourself through various routes which use a combination of highways etc., and look at each article along the way to see what you'll pass along the way without having to wade through the avalanche of information an article detailing the entirety of something like US I-40 would present.
Texugo 08:28, 5 December 2008 (EST)
Texugo, It does look like a good idea. But but nice with AHeneen, he was just briefly explaining his idea, it is not a big deal. Anyways, while the lovely interstates have logos that can be used on WT, some Canadian ones do not. What are we supposed to do about that? Also, why can't we just mention the highways in Get in or whatever...what is the point of a fancy box? Thanks. edmontonenthusiast [ee] .T.A.L.K. 10:17, 5 December 2008 (EST).
I really like it, Texugo, and the box looks beautiful (except I can't see the special characters you're using to separate the cities). It's unobtrusive, provides an alternate way of looking at travel, and would seem to fit in well with the Get out section. It'd be a lot of work to implement on a large scale, though. LtPowers 11:40, 5 December 2008 (EST)
Wikitravel - the road trip edition. The world is criss-crossed with so many routes, of so many different kinds, we can't attempt to cover them all. SOme are on the same road number/name, ans some involve many. Bicycle routes, train routes as well. If we try and make an itinerary for each one it would overwhelme the guide. Similarly adding the route information to a travel guide, sets us up for a manual task. It would be easy enough to do something like pick up the OSM data and one of the OSM routing engines, allow you to search a route, and just link the travel guides for the towns along the route. OSM also has lots of informaiton like exit numners, highway services etc. If the information isn't in OSM yet, maybe better to enter it there, than here.. --Inas 14:22, 5 December 2008 (EST)

We definitely can do highway pages if they are major, as already done but very good point inas. edmontonenthusiast [ee] .T.A.L.K. 14:26, 5 December 2008 (EST).

I'm not in favor of individual highways/interstates getting their own articles unless such highway is iconic (I.e. Route 66). Back to the main point of discussion, Texugo, I like your template. Ideally for me, it would be floated to the right and be place solely in the get-in section of the article. I'd also want the template to be a little smaller (remove some of the dots) and enlarge the highway icons. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 16:31, 5 December 2008 (EST)
Few more thoughts: The template should only list the nearest large cities and maybe the nearest mid-size city. For example, I wouldn't expect I-71 in Cincinnati to list that Loveland (Ohio) was on the highway, because the city is only 10,000 or so large. The next city should be Dayton (If I remember correctly), or possibly - but then again this would be a stretch - Middletown (Ohio) (which isn't quite mid-sized). -- Sapphire(Talk) • 16:36, 5 December 2008 (EST)
I disagree. It kind of defeats the point, to my mind, to leave out "small" destinations. Half the point of this proposed template is to point out those less-well-known destinations that one might encounter while traveling between two big ones. LtPowers 18:57, 5 December 2008 (EST)
I second that, pointing out little towns on the template can help draw attention to them and what they have to offer. Oh, and I-71 goes towards Columbus...not Dayton (I-75 goes north to Dayton). AHeneen 22:55, 5 December 2008 (EST)
I like it. To prevent the inevitable "which city to list" squabbles, though, I would suggest that the template use the same city names as actual highway signage in the destination. Jpatokal 22:59, 5 December 2008 (EST)
It does seem like an interesting idea. I definitely like it better than having highway articles. Also does sound like a lot of work, but a nice template should help. I also see this as more of a "get out" template, but with some tweaking might work in "get in" too – cacahuate talk 03:45, 6 December 2008 (EST)
I also think that not listing the next destination (whatever the size) would defeat the point. Some travellers, like my dad for example, like to stay somewhat outside a big city, where accommodation may be cheaper, or where an early departure won't involve morning traffic jams. Some through travellers may look to stop for lunch in a small town along the way rather than get off the highway and involved in traffic in the bigger city. Some smaller towns have attractions that would be a shame to miss, or one-of-a-kind restaurants which have become favorites of travellers who frequent the area.
Of course the appearance of the box itself is up for discussion, and I would welcome other mockups if anyone wants to toy with what I did. The characters that aren't showing up for you, LtPowers, are part of the Japanese character set, and can of course be changed. We can work out the size of the icon and the nature of the separators before making the template, if we can agree that this is a good idea.
As for the placement of the box, I would lean toward putting it centered at the bottom simply because the box is a bit wide, even with the smallest font setting as it is, and because the width of the box will vary depending on the length of the city names. Right justified in the body of the article could really squash the layout if you have several long placenames. I think topic-wise it fits a little better with the Get out section too, as we tend to mention nearby small towns there a lot more often than in the Get in section.
It will be quite a bit of work, though as Cacahuate said, having a template would definitely help. I do think it will be worth it.
Texugo 03:59, 6 December 2008 (EST)


If we place the template in the Get-out section, then I'd withdraw my suggestion about right alignment, but I still think it would be nice, so that text wrapped around the template. I also withdraw the suggestion about sticking only to big cities, but I definitely would like to see larger icons and fewer dots. -- Sapphire

So, outside the US? What about the European route network? In a lot of European countries they are the only route designation, in some countries they are dual labelled with the national highway network, and in some countries, like the UK they are not used at all. I like the idea, and for a Dane it would make sense to use in Europe, as we use the E network to navigate, but I know Germans mainly use the German numbering system. And would I be complete wrong thinking that travellers in Europe (and Japan for that matter) mainly use public transportation anyway? making hard to justify the effort here. Also I agree it should be made narrower --Stefan (sertmann) Talk 06:15, 6 December 2008 (EST)

Template:Routebox-3

Alright, take two. I made the icons slightly bigger and the rest as small as possible. I made up a template which seems to work well enough, though I guess it will have to be like the Babel templates where there are actually a set of templates and you have to indicate how many entries there are. I'm putting it here to the right to see how it looks, though wherever it is aligned, I still think it belongs in the Get out section. What do you think?
Texugo 07:22, 6 December 2008 (EST)

You realise this would be difficult. So we got Europe and America. What about Asia, Canada, UAE, Australia, etc.? Canada would be difficult cause it is not just a set type of highways. edmontonenthusiast [ee] .T.A.L.K. 12:23, 6 December 2008 (EST).

I think this is a brilliant idea, and much less intensive than a bunch of highway articles, and a template like this makes it easy to apply to virtually any route, such as a rail line. I think this works best at the bottom of the article in the Get out section - it's simple, straight-forward, it fits with the theme of "Get out", and would be less obtrusive there rather than sticking it the Get in section. And yes, it needs to have all the little small destinations, otherwise it would defeat the point.

But there is one thing though - going back to what AHeneen was saying, the region articles have a lot of information on small destinations which can't have articles of their own. So let's say you drove out of the city on the interstate and you're about to pass "Buffalo Bill's Western Amusement Park", which happens to have a really fantastic BBQ joint. Obviously, info like this belongs in the regional article, not the template - the template shouldn't have any specific destination info, just links to the destination article, such as a city or a national park. I'd kinda like to see links to regional articles included in this somehow, but I don't know how you could do it without it looking weird. Perhaps you could put the name of the city where this specific template goes on the top of the template, followed by a link to the regional article (so for instance your Oklahoma City template, it would say on top Oklahoma City (Greater Oklahoma City). I dunno, it's just a thought. If we can't get the regional article in somehow, I still support the idea. PerryPlanet Talk 16:48, 6 December 2008 (EST)

I know exactly the kind of thing you're talking about, and thought about that too. Ideally shouldn't those kind of listings already be in the get out section of the nearest city article anyway? We could, for pure silliness' sake, make the hyphens between the cities link to the region articles, but it might make the template kind of unnecessarily complicated. Texugo 01:55, 7 December 2008 (EST)
That is a very good point and actually one I was thinking of myself; it might be more practical to just have that info on the Get out section (of course, if we are going to use that argument, that the template should really go into Get out rather than Get in), rather than have a bunch of region articles in the template. Because to be perfectly honest, I don't know how anyone could put regional articles in there without messing up the template. It just looks so beautifully simple now, I'd hate to wreck that. PerryPlanet Talk 12:10, 7 December 2008 (EST)

Should this be moved to Wikitravel talk:Routes Expedition? If so, feel free to move it or tell me and I'll get around to it. AHeneen 02:10, 7 December 2008 (EST)

If this does take off, please make the images replaceable in the template, was thinking a bit about this, and something like this would also be perfect for the get-out section of the Russian cities along the Trans-Siberian. --Stefan (sertmann) Talk 02:27, 7 December 2008 (EST)
I don't quite get you- the images are already replaceable. There is an image field for each line in the template and you just type the image name there. Texugo 02:35, 7 December 2008 (EST)
There is nothing to get :) It was just a shout, in case anyone was contemplating automating the thing with a script or something like that. --Stefan (sertmann) Talk 02:41, 7 December 2008 (EST)

One quick question about the template, which may be too much detail to worry about now but... currently we have it so that it displays the nearest destination of any size and the nearest large city, which I think is great. But what should it display if the next locale is the terminus? Should the space where the next large city goes say Terminus? PerryPlanet Talk 12:29, 7 December 2008 (EST)

I am wondering if we could get Canadian symbols? There is a bunch-some are on Wikipedia[logo] but we cannot use. Just wondering. edmontonenthusiast [ee] .T.A.L.K. 12:34, 7 December 2008 (EST).

It could say (terminus) or it could just be left blank I think. As for symbols, I wouldn't worry about it. A lot of the ones in use on Wikipedia have been released into the public domain, which is where I got the three I used for an example, and even if there are none, that kind of icon is very very simple to create in Inkscape. Texugo 13:38, 7 December 2008 (EST)
The Interstate highway shields are in the public domain (as creations of the U.S. federal government). I'm not sure of the status of the Canadian 400-series highway shields; Commons thinks they're in the public domain, and I'm inclined to believe them. As for formats, I would like to see the "control cities" bolded. In the case of a terminus, just leave the space blank, or write END. If a control city is the next destination, then we can either have just that city or have the next two control cities. LtPowers 17:30, 7 December 2008 (EST)
Sounds good. I'd say for the last point, have the next two control cities if the next destination is a control city. PerryPlanet Talk 19:16, 7 December 2008 (EST)
Ah, my original html mock up had the next major city in bold, but when I made the template I forgot to do it. I fixed it now, although depending on your browser's current text size settings it may not show up that way. I agree that if the next city is a big one the following should also be, just for consistency's sake. Texugo 00:46, 8 December 2008 (EST)
Looking good. You might need to add a point-size parameter (you can default it to 16px) to accommodate 3-digit interstates (there are a few that are major enough to include) and highway shields from other countries. Also, it may be possible to set up a helper-template that takes care of the coding for each row, then just include that template x number of times inside the box. That might make the coding cleaner (or not; I'd have to test it out). LtPowers 09:58, 8 December 2008 (EST)
Feel free to diddle with the template. I'm not all that advanced making those things. Maybe you can copy the current template to Template:Routebox-3/test to toy with it and show me what you mean here.
Also if there are no objections, I'd like to choose a region for which to implement a pilot of this system so we can all play around with it and see how it works. Anyone have a problem with a test run?
Texugo 10:37, 8 December 2008 (EST)
Nope, I think you should, it will help us to see quicker if this is going to work & be useful... looks promising though! – cacahuate talk 00:07, 9 December 2008 (EST)
OK. I will get on that probably tomorrow. Any suggestions for a good place to start. Preferably a US area which has a lot of national highway intersections at different spots so we can try out non-linear navigation better. I was thinking maybe Pennsylvania. Any other suggestion? Texugo 08:00, 9 December 2008 (EST)

Good to see real-life examples in Wikitravel articles! In general I like it, but the awkwardness of the Pennsylvania articles (seems like the coverage there is rather poor, with few articles) somewhat hinders it. But that's an issue with the Pennsylvania articles, not the freeway templates. I do have a couple of things to say about the templates though...

  • I think they would work better being centered at the very bottom of the page, right above the article status templates. In a large Get out section, like Pittsburgh, they just seem to get lost in the text.
  • There's one particular case which seems a tad awkward, and that is in the Harrisburg template where it shows the next destination on I-76 west being Youngstown, Ohio. Again, this kind of goes back to the issue of Pennsylvania coverage, but really. I-76 passes pretty close to Pittsburgh, without going through the actual town (then again, so does I-79). Close enough that I feel it might warrant being the next destination after Harrisburg. But this begs the broader question - what do you do when your roadway passes near a destination, rather than through it? PerryPlanet Talk 12:32, 10 December 2008 (EST)
I noticed that about the Pennsylvania articles and abandoned that as a test in favor of an area that I know has at least an article for many smaller towns. I completed I-40 from where it enters Texas on the west to OKC, from there on I-35 down to Dallas, and tomorrow I'll do a little more, connecting it back up to Amarillo and over to Lubbock. That should be a good enough area to play with for the time being I think. Have a run through what I've got so far and let me know what you think. Note the special case at Denton where 35 splits into two. I'm going to switch it over to the center for the moment because having it right aligned makes a weird layout when the only thing in the Get out section is an outline notification or some such box. I do think it will be better to put it under the text where PerryPlanet suggests, but I'll have to go back tomorrow and move the ones I've done because it's far past bedtime. Texugo 13:18, 10 December 2008 (EST)
For highways passing near cities rather than through them, it's going to have to be a judgment call. If the road signs on the highway point out the city as a destination (e.g., xxx miles to Pittsburgh signs on I-76), then it certainly should be included in the sequence. (Note that Pittsburgh is an official control city for I-76 and the PA Turnpike and so should be included.) If not, then we'll have to make a call. Certainly anything that passes through suburbs of a major city (i.e., I-90 passing south of Rochester probably should mention that city, but then we have to ask what counts as a suburb... LtPowers 15:27, 10 December 2008 (EST)
Good idea, LtPowers. That sounds like the best way to handle that situation. Anyway, I just went through the Texas/Oklahoma deal and I really like what I see. I like how you handled Denton, Texugo. Looks nice. Overall, it just looks fantastic and I can't wait to help this expand across the country. It's just so convenient to have there, to be able to hop from town to town without thinking about it. And my worries about excluding material that would be in regional articles largely vanished when I saw that kind of info in the Get out sections, like we were talking about. It's so nice when things go the way you want them to... PerryPlanet Talk 15:42, 10 December 2008 (EST)
I took a look at it and really like it. It's very handy for quickly seeing what cities/towns lie along a highway, what you can do there, etc. I'd like to roll it out in Canadian articles as well but a couple of things come to mind. One thing is western Canada doesn't have an Interstate equivalent network of expressways. Would there be any objection to using old-fashioned two lane highways that are key roads in moving people and goods around (e.g., the Trans-Canada highway)? A second thing is what to do when the Interstate hits an international border. For example, the I-5 hits the Canadian border, becomes Hwy 99 and continues on to Vancouver, Whistler and points north. I'd prefer to see the routebox continue on rather than stopping at a border. So, in the I-5/BC 99 example, the I-5 routebox heading north from Seattle would show Vancouver, BC as the next major destination and vice-versa for Hwy 99 heading south from Vancouver. Shaund 19:15, 10 December 2008 (EST)

Update on Routebox experiment

I put in a few hours to flesh this out for better examination. Routebox navigation is more or less complete for the Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma Great Plains regions, plus areas from Oklahoma City down to Dallas-Fort Worth, and everything on and north of I-20 as far west as Odessa. Routes completed include all US interstates and US Routes which pass through the area as well as a handful of Texas routes which provide access to article destination otherwise left out of the network. I was at first a little leary of putting in the full set of US routes and supplemental state routes, but the result is that about 65% of the destination still have only one or two routes listed, and only a very few have more than 3, with Dallas having the most at 7.

In the process of implementing all this, I had some thoughts about guidelines we should implement if this is going to be consistent, comprehensive, and useful. Here are my ideas:

  • Care must be taken when laying a new route not to skip any places for which we have an article. Using Google Maps and running placename in our search seems to work.
  • When different types of routes are used, they should be listed in the following order:
  • High speed train lines
  • Regular train lines
  • Interstate highways in numerical order
  • National highways in numerical order
  • Subnational highways in numerical order
  • Both cardinal and ordinal directions should be used and should be chosen based on the direction the route leaves the destination, not on the general direction of the route as a whole. Preference for left-side placement should be given to N, NW, W, and SW.
  • When a highway changes names (as at a border or, for example, where US-75 becomes I-45 in Dallas) a note should be inserted saying "Becomes ___" along with an extra hyphen and space on the appropriate side, so that two further destinations can still be listed. See the examples of I-75 in the Richardson article, and Texas-152 in Wheeler.
  • When a highway merges with another going in the same direction, a note should be inserted. See westbound I-30 in Fort Worth and southbound Texas-70 in Sweetwater.
  • When a highway ends at or crosses another highway of equal or higher level at a place for which we have no article, a mention should be inserted. See US-281 north from Anadarko.
  • If a major highway junction occurs at a small town for which we have an article, that town should be treated as a control city for less important routes, so anyone walking through the route won't miss a major junction. Childress is a good example, as several US routes converge there and US-287 is as big and important to the area as any Interstate, while 62 and 83 are not.
  • When a highway enters a national park, an abbreviated version of the park name maybe used for a destination. See southbound US-385 from Odessa for an example.
  • We should never have links to non-existant articles unless a highway terminates in a reasonable sized city for which we might create an article. See how I-175 terminates in Jacksonville in the Dallas artilcle.
  • Some routes have very long stretches or several hundred miles in which there is no major control city. In these cases every city for which we have an article should be used.
  • Rest stops can be inserted as text in addition to the two cities in a given direction. See Vernon and Wichita Falls for an example. If might be possible to develop a couple of icons to show rest stops and picnic areas to save horizontal text space.
  • Subnational routes such as state highways should only be used if they provide access to article destinations which are otherwise off the network (See Texas 152 through Borger, Texas 70 through Turkey, or for cases where two adjecent cities are otherwise unconnected (See Pampa and Perryton connected by Texas-70.

I'm going to hold off adding any more areas to the project until I get some more comments. Please explore the areas I've done with the above proposed guidelines in mind, and give me your comments. If after the next round of comments there are no major objections, I'd like to move this to a separate expedition page and starting rolling it out in other areas. I'm personally really really happy with the way this is working so far. Texugo 06:22, 13 December 2008 (EST)

I think this looks fantastic - virtually no objections here, and I can't wait to start rolling this out in New Mexico and expanding from there. I am wondering though whether we really need to include state roads at all. Unless the stated purpose of this is to cover every single destination with a route box, do we really need to go into that much detail? At what point should Wikitravel stop and say that this is a job for a road map, not a travel guide?
Also, if I could add another condition to the list you came up with - What do you do if there's a major intersection but no town? This is the case with the intersection of I-15 and I-70 in Central Utah - I-70 dead ends with I-15 several miles from the nearest town, Beaver (which doesn't have an article, though that can be fixed). My idea is to have, in the last destination on I-70 before it dead ends into I-15, write "I-15" as the next destination, then write "Beaver" as the control city, with a note in parenthesis that its 10 miles south on I-15. And then in the Beaver article to have I-70 in there, with the note that its terminus is 10 miles north on I-15. That way you can still follow the route without interruption.
On a separate note about train lines - now don't get me wrong, I love traveling by train and take Amtrak when I travel long distances, but how much sense does it make to put train lines into this? Trains make a brief stop in a town/city, then take off again. With road travel, you can pull off and explore such-and-such place, in which case this route box is very helpful. But you can't do that on a train unless you're willing to spend the night and wait for the next train. I really, really don't have any objection to putting train routes in here, but I do wonder if train info should just be left to the "Get in by train" section. PerryPlanet Talk 13:18, 13 December 2008 (EST)
Your question about intersections where there is no article was answered above, but I didn't word it properly. See US-281 north from Anadarko.
About state roads I would say that most of them should not end up being used, hence the suggested restrictions above, but I would really hate to see a prohibition on using them because state roads are sometimes the most scenic routes, and also using them can flesh out the full picture of what destinations are nearby. It also seem ridiculous to me to have two navigable articles which in reality are adjacent, but without using states routes take many steps to reach. Here is the example which led me to use state routes: Pampa, Texas is adjacent to both Perryton and Wheeler via direct state routes, but to navigate between them without following state routes, you have to make a huge detour: Pampa - Panhandle - Amarillo - Conway - Groom - McLean - Shamrock - Wheeler - Canadian - Perryton.
As for trains, I wasn't thinking so much about the US, but rather places where rail travel is really vital and more regular. In Japan most tourists get a JR pass and they can hop on and off, hitting several destinations in a day if they want. I am dying to see this implemented for JR and Shinkansen lines here, or for the Trans-Siberian railway, or for the European rail network.
Texugo 02:34, 14 December 2008 (EST)
Sounds good on both counts. I guess my only question now is when I can try putting those routes boxes in. :) PerryPlanet Talk 02:45, 14 December 2008 (EST)

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