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 headerAHeneen 04:50, 7 December 2008 (EST)
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. --PeterTalk 16:13, 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. --PeterTalk 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:
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)
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.
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.
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 . 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. --PeterTalk 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)
Update of Routebox experiment
A policy page has been created, so this discussion has been moved here.
Texugo 06:24, 15 December 2008 (EST)
I'm of the opinion that, while we don't want to duplicate information, indexing it in multiple ways is a good thing. We've got wikilinks, breadcrumb navigation based on the article hierarchy, and itineraries that cover some routes, plus you can search either on the wiki or using an outside search engine. We could argue about how important having another mechanism is, or just figure it cannot do any harm, so just plunge forward and build it. I'd say the latter is the correct course. Glad someone's doing it, though it's mostly outside my range of interests.
I find myself wondering how it might apply, if at all, in areas where driving is not an important option. For one example, see Driving_in_China#Dangers for why not and High-speed_rail_in_China for the best alternative. I think the Trans-Siberian Railway is more the main route than any highway. et cetera. Of course this is not an urgent question; we can go ahead and build it for US highways and, if that works well, worry about extending it later. Pashley 11:12, 16 December 2008 (EST)
Just because you didn't refer to either the routebox navigation system or to making articles for individual highways, I wonder which you are referring to, as the discussion for the routebox navigation system has recently moved here. Could you clarify a bit? Texugo 11:19, 16 December 2008 (EST)
I meant the routeboxes. Pashley 10:00, 17 December 2008 (EST)
Not real itineraries (i.e. no one says "I think I'll confine my trip to I-15") and not routes of special interest (i.e. Route 66, etc.). A few highway articles still exist as a holdover from User:AHeneen's push to allow it via the largely defunct Routes expedition. Most of the purposes for starting that ended up being taken over by the Routebox navigation, and consensus has never established that we want articles for any and every highway-- the creation of that Routes expedition page was rather premature. Its continued existence promotes further creation of such articles, so I think it's time we deleted it or marked it as defunct as well, and/or re-opened discussion about what to do with the other existing non-touristic highway articles. At this point we still do not, by default, allow this kind of article to be created. texugo 00:56, 6 June 2011 (EDT)
I strongly object to lumping the expedition page in with the highway pages. Very different arguments apply as they are very different types of pages. I feel strongly that legitimate expedition pages should never be deleted, only archived. LtPowers 09:28, 6 June 2011 (EDT)
I lumped them together because in this case the expedition page was clearly the justification for creating the highway article pages (the same user signed his name on the expedition page and then proceeded to create highway articles). However the creation of this expedition in the first place was never really sanctioned by consensus-- it was a plunge forward in a direction that we ultimately decided we didn't want to go. In the excitement over the new routebox navigation, this aborted expedition slipped through the cracks, so currently its page is still sitting there encouraging the creation of pages which, in practice, are routinely vfd'd and deleted. If we do "archive it", as User:LtPowers suggests, it needs to be clearly marked as defunct and not applicable.texugo 09:50, 6 June 2011 (EDT)
You seem almost violently opposed to the very idea of these articles. It's just another way of looking at travel, and having basic guides to the major Interstate highways is a reasonable goal. LtPowers 14:45, 6 June 2011 (EDT)
I'd suggest re-listing each of these articles individually since group VFDs are always messy. Like Texugo I'm also highly skeptical of non-itinerary highway articles, but for those that haven't previously gone through a VFD process I think the standard "one year to move beyond outline status" rule for itineraries should apply. -- Ryan • (talk) • 15:57, 6 June 2011 (EDT)
If consensus was never reached for the creation of the Routes Expedition, then surely it should not have commenced? I would agree that it should be archived and marked as defunct. As for the existing Route articles, then I would fully concur with Ryan that standard itinerary procedures should be applied.--Burmesedays 00:24, 7 June 2011 (EDT)
I'm with Ltpowers above: "legitimate expedition pages should never be deleted". The expedition page should clearly be kept. Marking it as defunct is fine by me. What do the (few) participants there think?
That page should have info on routebox navigation added to it. That is how we now handle highways.
I'm more-or-less neutral on the actual highway articles. Wrh2 seems to have it right "the standard "one year to move beyond outline status" rule for itineraries should apply." Pashley 01:04, 7 June 2011 (EDT)
To respond to some points:
I agree that legitimate expedition pages should be archived rather than deleted, but I disagree that this was ever a legitimate expedition page, in that there was never consensus support for highway articles before this page was thrown out there to encourage their creation. I personally don't actually care whether this expedition page is deleted or defunct-ified but I do want to make clear that just because someone tossed the expedition out there and some people like it does not legitimize this kind of article yet. As Burmesedays notes above, it was supposed to have been discussed and agreed upon before it got this far.
Feel free to split the highway articles away from this discussion if you wish, but I don't see the point since their fate will still depend on the outcome of this discussion.
The type of proposed highway articles being debated are not itineraries in any sense other than the fact that they have been started with the itinerary template for lack of anything more appropriate. A finished article of this type would look nothing like an itinerary, which recommends a way to make a trip and the best things to see and do along the way, using whichever starting points, ending points, and routes between which provide the best of the given region. These highway articles would be a different animal entirely, a sort of route reference page, which confines the route to a single highway number and lists everything along the way from end to end.
With a few notable exceptions like Route 66, people generally don't plan their vacation based on a highway number (and indeed, following old Route 66 itself requires following a number of different modern roads), so these highway articles would only be useful in a piecemeal fashion anyway. Accordingly, they would need to be organized not as a day to day walkthrough as most itineraries are, but rather in a predictable, geographic fashion so the user could quickly find the portion of the road which concerns them. Much of the proposed functionality is already provided by the subsequent implementation of routebox navigation, and much of that which is not would duplicate information that should already have its home elsewhere.
Most of the route itineraries articles that we do have, such as the Dalton Highway or Route 66 or the Silk Road, are already recognized journeys that people take and hence obvious choices for itinerary templates because they are actual itineraries that people take. However, that does not by any means imply that any and every highway with a number is or will ever be an actual itinerary that people take for its own sake.
Given the last three reasons, I do not feel that there is any reason why we should afford the same year-long "right-to-trial" to these articles that we afford to actual itineraries-- because it assumes that all highway articles could potentially have a good "itinerary" article written about them if someone puts in the work, ignoring the fact that they are neither itineraries in themselves nor itinerary-style articles in their ideal completed state, and providing no criteria for exclusion other than the "fullness" of the article. In short, giving them all a year to "develop into good articles" presumes the same thing that the premature expedition page did, namely that this type of article was given a license to exist in the first place. They were not, so I don't see any reason why we should just, as a rule, give them all a chance anyway.
At any rate, of the five US Interstate articles (4, 10, 75, 80, and 94) that were created prior to this current round of stub creation, four of them already pass the proposed one-year criteria anyway, and the other one (I-4), though fully developed and clearly marked as experimental, is a mere 132 miles long and doesn't give us any idea of what a completed I-40 or I-20 or 80 article would even look like, for the purposes of evaluating whether this kind of article should be allowed. Now, if someone wanted to fully develop 3-4 test articles of larger, more major highways on some sandbox pages somewhere, and then lead us into a discussion about whether to create and allow a new category of articles with its own standardized format and criteria, I might be willing to consider it and give more constructive criticism, but allowing this stuff to proliferate as pseudo-itineraries and/or sit around for a year at a time without a consensus mandate or even a clear idea of what an ideal highway article would entail? I adamantly oppose it.texugo 12:20, 7 June 2011 (EDT)
Archive the expedition page from the expedition's talk page. The Expedition suggestion generated controversy, and its sole purpose was to promote the development of articles that do not meet our article criteria, and thus probably should not have been written in the WT namespace until discussion was resolved. Interstate 4 was the only article that really went anywhere, but I'm dubious that writing highway articles is really something we should be expanding our aims to include. While at the time, I was a bit interested in this idea, and contributed to the US-4 article, the lack of development plus the fact that we really didn't have a consensus for this project suggests to me that it should be shut down. I would also archiveInterstate 4 in the same manner (from the expedition talk page), and then delete the various highway stubs/"outlines". --PeterTalk 15:06, 7 June 2011 (EDT)
Sorry, for some reason "archive ~ from the talk page" does not compute. Could you explain what you mean? texugo 01:36, 16 June 2011 (EDT)