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Template talk:Quickbar

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Quick Facts
Capital Washington, D.C.
Government Federal republic
Currency US dollar (USD)
Area 3,755,241 miles2 (9,631,418 km2)
Population 293,027,571 (July 2004 est.)
Language English, Spanish (spoken by a sizable minority), Hawaiian (in Hawaii)
Religion Christian 78% (Protestant 52%, Roman Catholic 24% Mormon 2%) other 10%, none 10%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 1% (2002)
Electricity 120V / 60Hz
Country code 1
Internet TLD .us, .edu, .gov, .mil (most sites use .com, .net, .org)
Time Zone UTC -5 to UTC -10

This template replaces the HTML quickbars previously used in country templates. To implement use the following format (note that the location, flag, and main images MUST NOT be wider than 250px):

| image=[[Image:image|noframe|250px]]
| flag=[[Image:flag]]
| location=[[Image:location|noframe|250px]]
| capital=[[Capital]]
| government=Type of government
| currency=Currency used
| area=Country area
| population=Population
| language=[[Language1]], [[Language2]], Language3, ...
| religion=Religion(s)
| electricity=Electrical voltage and current
| callingcode=Calling code
| tld=Internet top level domain
| timezone=Time zone(s) in relation to UTC

Quickbar templates - request for comment[edit]

Swept in from the Pub:

While trying to track down existing templates for the Wikitravel:Template index page I came across User:JanSlupski/Projects/QuickBar, which was an attempt to create templates to use for quickbars. The advantages cited were that this would bring some consistency to how quickbars are implemented, and it would be less intimidating for a user to see {{quickbar|title=""|population=""|etc}} then the current batch of HTML that begins most articles with quickbars. It would be good if others could comment on User talk:JanSlupski/Projects/QuickBar as to whether they think something like this is a good idea, specifically in light of the fact that the current template policy discourages template use, although Evan did recently indicate that his opinions of templates may be changing. -- Ryan 14:13, 3 April 2006 (EDT)

This gets a strong support from me. I think a really brief quickbar template at the top of the page is way easier to grok than the HTML we have now (which predates templates, and MediaWiki tables, by the way).
Question: is it worth writing a bot to change the 200+ country quickbars, or should be just do it as time goes by? Also: JanSlupski's quickbar uses a lot of items. I wonder if, with defaults in templates that we get with MediaWiki 1.6.x, we could cut it down to just one Template:Quickbar. --Evan 17:29, 17 April 2006 (EDT)
There is also Template:Country Quickbar, which looks a bit easier to use. If it's used I think that the name should be changed to just "Template:Quickbar" (as you suggested), and it should then be fairly easy to modify the single template to take default params. I don't have time right now to cobble something together, but if no one beats me to it I could do something later tonight.
As to writing a bot, I'm not sure that the syntax and headers are standard enough that it would be all that easy - it might be easier to kind of change as we go, and with only 200 or so quickbars the change shouldn't be too painful. -- Ryan 17:56, 17 April 2006 (EDT)
I've put together a Template:Quickbar. I've replaced the quickbar for the Falkland Islands and Italy with this template. Let me know if you have any comments. -- Ryan 01:43, 18 April 2006 (EDT)
I tried it out on Picardie, which was a mess before. -- Jonboy 14:03, 18 April 2006 (EDT)
Thanks - it looks like a lot of whitespace is being added, so I'll see if I can fix that. Additionally, do we need the capability to add lists of regions to the quickbar? Currently "departements" is not a supported parameter, but that could be changed if it's something people want to see in the quickbars. My personal feeling is that region lists belong in the main article, but I don't feel so strongly about it that I wouldn't want to change the template if others wanted it changed. -- Ryan 14:30, 18 April 2006 (EDT)
I don't think we need regions in the quickbar, but based on my experience on Wikipedia, it would be nice to have an optional editor-defined item, to allow the inclusion of some factoid that doesn't apply in most cases, but is interesting and relevant to a specific location (e.g. national anthem: "Freebird". To implement it, the template would need to take two parameters: the name of the element and the data for it.
I'm concerned about shortening the name of the template to just "Quickbar". If this is the only kind of quickbar we're going to have, it's fine, but what about templates for other kinds of articles (e.g. cities, itineraries, parks)? If so, maybe "Quickcountry" or something would be more flexibile. The alternative would be to make one quickbar template that can take all kinds of parameters and ignore the irrelevant ones, but I think separate templates would be easier to grok (and to customize, such as color coding). - Todd VerBeek 15:15, 18 April 2006 (EDT)
Responding to Todd's comment above (indentation level was getting a bit deep), it would be pretty easy to add a couple of user-defined headings - for example "heading1=National Anthem", "value1=Freebird", "heading2=", "value2=". I'm not sure if that's the preferred approach, so I'll wait until someone else chimes in before making any changes.
In terms of naming, my personal preference would be to avoid the proliferation of templates that has occurred on Wikipedia by starting out with just one "Quickbar" template. If needed in the future we can always create new types of quickbars, but I don't think it hurts to have one general quickbar now. The current HTML quickbars are implemented with some consistency on country pages, region pages, state pages, and possibly even on a few city pages, so having a "general" quickbar template seems to be reasonable way to encompass how quickbars are currently used on the site. -- Ryan 17:09, 18 April 2006 (EDT)

Quickbar for States[edit]

Way back I put a quick bar on three of the US states. Maine, Arkansas and Oklahoma and maybe another one or two. I can't remember for sure if there where more. I kind of like it, but I would prefer to get a consensus before moving and doing more. And, if there is a consensus to do this I am thinking the best way would be to have a template. All three of the states were the same to start, but wikitravlers have made a couple of changes on the one in Oklahoma. Let me know what you think. If consensus is not to do this, I would be happy to remove the one's I put in place. Thanks. -- Tom Holland (xltel) 16:29, 7 June 2006 (EDT)

For what it's worth, something similar has been done for regions of France, e.g. Champagne-Ardenne. - Todd VerBeek 17:14, 7 June 2006 (EDT)
Also, before creating another template, what different fields are needed for states? It should be pretty simple to add new fields to this template, and we could also fairly easily add support for a few generic fields to allow users to define their own heading. -- Ryan 17:34, 7 June 2006 (EDT)
To be frank, I'm not a fan of including "state flower" and such on travel articles... that kind of elementary-school-geography info isn't as relevant to me as a potential traveler as the preferred languages, gods, and voltages of a country I might be visiting. Area codes are more practical info, but as soon as a state has more than one or two it doesn't do much good to list them. - Todd VerBeek 17:54, 7 June 2006 (EDT)
I've removed the quickbars from the French regions, and I think it would be prudent to do the same for the US states as well. My reasoning is similar to Todd's - aside from timezone and area code (if not more than one), the information provided really isn't all that useful for travel, and it can be tough to then draw the line. For example, is it appropriate to create a quickbar for any region? For cities? What then goes in the quickbar? Perhaps in the future if there are some guidelines created about what is valid information for a quickbar then we can revisit this issue, but for now I think the information is better off in the main article for non-country articles. I'll hold off on making further changes to allow others to comment, but unless there are objections then I'll probably remove them in the future as part of the quickbar-ectomy that is in progress. -- Ryan 09:21, 1 July 2006 (EDT)

Including maps[edit]

Should we include maps in the country quick bars? I'd suggest under the "location" map. - Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 15:53, 13 June 2006 (EDT)

The two concerns I'd have would be 1) the map would be very tiny, and 2) the quickbar is getting a bit crowded. Looking at Italy as an example, I kind of like the way it's laid out now. That said, I'm terrible with aesthetics, so other opinions should carry a bit more weight than mine. -- Ryan 16:37, 13 June 2006 (EDT)
I've been thinking that we really should appropriate more of those location maps, probably for every country. They're Free and they're useful. I don't think they look bad in the quickbar... if any graphic element is going to go, I'd be inclined to (re)move the flags (provided there's a nice photo in place). - Todd VerBeek 17:14, 13 June 2006 (EDT)
Just in case I've bungled my words again, I'm very much in favor of the location maps in the quickbar, I just don't think we should also put the full country map in the quickbar. Italy is a great example of how the location map can be useful even in a small form.
I looked into getting more of those maps from Wikipedia, but many have been licensed as GFDL only. I've left a note on WikiPedia:User talk:Vardion#CC-SA licensing for maps? asking if he will re-license CC-SA, but he seems to be traveling and so it may be a while before we get a response. -- Ryan 17:31, 13 June 2006 (EDT)
I like the location maps too and I like the flags also so I don't think anything should go. Regarding the licensing the location maps. Some of them are available as PD. In theory we can use one that's licensed as public domain then edit the images to suit our needs, right? - Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 17:35, 13 June 2006 (EDT)
  • I have a map include on a quick bar for Russia. You can see it on my sandbox test page. Thoughts? I also have the code prepared to replace the Templat:Quickbar ready, but I'm not going to mess with that yet. The map is a bit smaller than it would be if we left it free standing in an article, but I'd rather include it in the quick bar, because I think it cleans up the look of articles. Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 17:26, 13 June 2006 (EDT)

Order of image/flag/location map[edit]

After adding a location map to Zambia the quickbar looked a bit odd to me - there was a nice landscape image of elephants, followed by a dinky flag image, followed by a nice location map. Switching the flag so that it is immediately above the "Quick Facts" section looks better to me, but others may disagree. Thoughts (if any)? -- Ryan 15:12, 27 June 2006 (EDT)

I like the way you ordered it. Image/Location/Map/Facts. - Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 16:00, 27 June 2006 (EDT)

Image padding[edit]

Another minor change, but I'm leaving a note here since quickbars are now used on a lot of pages. The "location" map image had 2px padding around it, but the "image" image had 0px padding. I've added 2px of padding to the "image" image as well, which looks better to me - see Singapore or United States of America. As always, I'm terrible with aesthetics, so if anyone feels strongly that the image looks better without padding feel free to revert. -- Ryan 19:26, 29 June 2006 (EDT)

Wiki links for time zone & calling code?[edit]

Any objection to updating this template so that the timezone header, electricty header, and the callingcode header link to Time zones, Electrical systems and List of country calling codes, respectively? I'm personally not very familiar with "UTC", and the voltage thing for electricity can be a bit confusing, so the additional links might be helpful for people. -- Ryan 10:13, 1 July 2006 (EDT)

No objection; it's certainly harmless. - Todd VerBeek 10:24, 1 July 2006 (EDT)
Done. The Singapore quickbar looked a bit odd to me after making the change, so I've also modified the template to prevent headings from wrapping ("Calling Code" was appearing on two lines). -- Ryan 10:32, 1 July 2006 (EDT)

Requests for Quickbar-ectomies[edit]

Moved from the Pub:

The recently introduced quickbar template is now in use in over a hundred articles, but there are still a substantial number of articles using the old quickbar. Converting to the new format is pretty easy, so anyone interested in helping out can use this link to locate pages still implementing an HTML quickbar, and then edit the page to use the following syntax:

| image=[[Image:image|noframe|250px]]
| flag=[[Image:flag]]
| location=[[Image:location|noframe|250px]]
| capital=[[Capital]]
| government=Type of government
| currency=Currency used
| area=Country area
| population=Population
| language=[[Language1]], [[Language2]], Language3, ...
| religion=Religion(s)
| electricity=Electrical voltage and current
| callingcode=Calling code
| tld=Internet top level domain
| timezone=Time zone(s) in relation to UTC

If you don't feel like looking up a field it can be left empty, such as "timezone=". In addition, Todd points out the following:

It's not terribly difficult; I've done dozens of them already. The most time-consuming part of it is looking up the usually-missing bits (which are all optional, but as long as you're there you might as well), and picking a pretty picture if you're so inclined. Here are some handy references: TLDs [1], electricity [2], calling codes, and time zones. - Todd VerBeek 13:58, 7 June 2006 (EDT)

This isn't a critical task, but the more people who feel like helping out the faster it will get done. -- Ryan 22:22, 13 June 2006 (EDT)

And it looks like, after a few weeks of mostly Ryan and me tag-teaming it, we've finished! At this point, it is theoretically possible to move, reformat, etc. all of the country/territory quickbars at once by editing a handful of templates. - Todd VerBeek 22:02, 2 July 2006 (EDT)

Quickbars on states?[edit]

Moved from the Pub:

I've noticed whilst trawling through Wikitravel upgrading the old quickbars to the new template that alot of the states in the US and also a few of the departements in France have quickbars... Do these actually need quickbars? In most cases, the info in the bar is merely a summary of what is already written in the wordy bit of the article or a copy of what is written in the country's quickbar, such as language spoken, currency, internet domain, time zone etc. A few examples of this are Maine, Poitou-Charentes. For the sake of uniformity throughout wikitravel, I believe we should either

  • quickbar all such states/departements/provinces with a tailor made region quickbar template


  • remove quickbars from states/departements/provinces.

However, in my opinion if we put region quickbars in, the kinds of things that could be put in - such as main sights - would require explanations in the See / Do sections.... What do other people think? Tsandell 07:54, 26 June 2006 (EDT)

Those quickbars don't appeal to me. The timezone info is nice to have. OldPine 09:44, 26 June 2006 (EDT)
See Template talk:Quickbar#Quickbar for States. -- Ryan 10:27, 26 June 2006 (EDT)

Quickbar for Cities[edit]

We are using a quickbar for cities on de: for some months now and I think it might be good to introduce it in other language versions, too. Have a look at Paris, Dresden or Ko Tao to get an impression what it looks like. I also made a auto-translation-template so it is possible to copy-and-paste the quickbar from other language versions, that might be especially interesting for smaller versions. --Flip666 writeme! • 19:26, 14 May 2007 (EDT)

It does look nice, but I'm not sure it's worth the effort, considering the limited amount of travel-related information there is for a quickbar to present at the city level. Also, once we start putting it on some cities, we either need to determine which cities to use it on, or we put it on all cities... and creating a location map for every city in the guide... I feel tired just thinking about it. :) - Todd VerBeek 21:21, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
Actually, the location maps are auto-generated so there's no need to create a location map for every single city, just add the country code and geo coordinates. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 21:26, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
Even so, looking up the coords of every city and applying the template to each article takes time. Then multiply that by several thousand. I know first-hand that applying a quickbar "only" to the countries in en: was a lot of work; adding one to cities will require geometrically more time than that, and every hour spent that way would be an hour not spent on other tasks. I'm not opposed to it, but I don't see it as the most useful way to spend our time. - Todd VerBeek 21:47, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
We should find out the coordinates for the geo-Template anyway. And it is easy: Click on the link to WikiPedia and then on the coordinates (E.g. Munich: [3]). You'll see a page where you can copy&paste them in the right format. And the advantage is once one language version has gathered all information (coodinated, area, population, etc.) all other language versions could just copy&paste the template. --Flip666 writeme! • 22:02, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
I really like this idea. Some information that might be valuable on the city level includes: telephone area code, zip/postal code, and time zone. For example I'm writing an article about Sandpoint Idaho right now and I want to find a quick way to let travellers know that Sandpoint is, unlike most of Idaho, on Pacific Time. I think a quickbar for cities might be a good idea for listing important tidbits so that a traveller doesn't have to dig through the article to find them. L'Aquatique 18:13, 30 July 2007 (EDT)
Oh please, please no!, I'd like to get rid of this template entirely, not expand its use. I really think that the "Contact" section of cities is the appropriate place for this kind of information; if it is something exceptionally important to the traveler, as in this case, I think a short note plus an in-article link should do the trick just fine. --Peter Talk 19:54, 30 July 2007 (EDT)
I'm afraid I don't understand why quickbars are so unpopular here? I checked out Flip's german links and I have to say it looks good. Some changes in content might be helpful, but having that information right up front saves time, ouais? L'Aquatique 23:17, 31 July 2007 (EDT)

Phil and I kicked ass on these templates. Everything is completely optional... Don't want to have a location map? No problem! The map requires to values of information before it's implemented - Geographic coordinates and map code. The QuickbarStadt has kind of grown on me because we include information that's not really typical of a travel guide, but can be interesting and necessary, such as emergency contact numbers for police, fire department, and EMS. We also have the altitude information, which can be very useful for people who have breathing problems. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 23:46, 31 July 2007 (EDT)

I feel like they take up too much space, with not that much gain. I think the single opening picture looks nicer than a quickbar, the location map is very well-made but I don't think all that necessary (I'd rather see good country and region maps with the cities and roads on them instead), geo coords and websites already have a space on the page, postal codes and area codes can easily go in contact... don't get me wrong, I totally appreciate the work you guys put into them... but I just don't think they add anything to city pages that is currently lacking. – cacahuate talk 00:03, 1 August 2007 (EDT)

Code Function Question[edit]

Swept in from the pub:

Hi all, I've been poking around in the help trying to find a guide for some of the functions I've seen in the code but I can't seem to find it. I'm mainly concerned with the "quickbar" function. I'm trying to appropriately apply it to the Nashville page, but I cannot find a list of the available "subheadings".

For example, in the Singapore article there are a great many items in the quickbar, but I want to know all of the ones that the system will there any place in the help for this?

The code looks something like this:

| image=[[Image:Singapore CBD Dusk.JPG|noframe|250px]]
| flag=[[Image:sn-flag.png]]
| location=[[Image:LocationSingapore.png]]

I want to know all of the listings like "image", "flag", "location", etc. Maybe I just haven't found it yet...

That being said, is there a listing of other functions (in addition to "quickbar") that the code will recognize?

Thanks! --Matt Talk 02:20, 10 August 2008 (EDT)

The quickbar only used for country articles. We do not use it for cities. It is a template and if you still want to know how it works, look at Template:Quickbar --Nick 02:40, 10 August 2008 (EDT)
Good to know, thanks. I didn't know. I will remove it. --Matt Talk 11:40, 10 August 2008 (EDT)

Delete the Quickbar[edit]

The quickbar has always looked like a weird, mostly irrelevant Wikipedia import to me and I think it is wreaking havoc on the country article displays. Especially since the ToC now lies to the left of content at the top of the page, having a right-aligned quickbar takes up lots of space and squashes the actual content into a mess. On country articles that have color-coded region maps (and I personally think they all should), the quickbar forces the map way down below the regions section. I resolved this on the Russia page, but throwing html brs around is not a good fix and leaves a lot of new white space.

But above all, these "factoids" are mostly of dubious importance to the traveler (flag images? Internet TLD? Government type="Federation"? Area in square km?). And the factoids that are of any relevance should be covered in the main sections of the article anyway. They are not so important (e.g., time zones, currency, religions, population) that they should take up such valuable real estate at the top of the page, and thereby mess up our article formatting. Even the "location" map should simply be replaced (IMO) with a Wikitravel style country map; and that doesn't have to be at the top of the page.

So, sorry if this seems radical, and I realize that a lot of effort has been put into this template, but I propose we delete the quickbar and discourage its use in country articles. --Peterfitzgerald Talk 21:20, 29 May 2007 (EDT)

I'd also like to point out that the quickbar is even messing up the formatting of this talk page. --Peterfitzgerald Talk 21:25, 29 May 2007 (EDT)
How about we first see if we can fix these problems before throwing out the baby, bathwater, and basin? I think some of that information is very useful (especially the location maps) and belongs at or near the top of the article, and the glamour photo in that position is a Wikitravelism I'd hate to see lost. The reason the quickbars were done as templates was to make them easily changed, globally. So alterations can be made to the contents, format, and even position (to the extent that attached CSS will let us). Other options to avoid a conflict (e.g. moving the Cities or Understand section into the space beteen the TOC and Quickbar) should be considered as well. - Todd VerBeek 21:47, 29 May 2007 (EDT)
Just so we're clear, I'm proposing we ditch quickbars altogether, not just the template ;) It just seems to me that they're not necessary. We can keep the top photo right where it is just by using wiki writeup, ditto for the location maps (which I'd prefer to see replaced by Wikitravel maps anyway), and everything else belongs in the article IMO. I'm curious to hear more thoughts, though. --Peterfitzgerald Talk 21:53, 29 May 2007 (EDT)
I'm with Todd on this one - let's first try some fixes for the TOC and other elements. I'm fairly confident that with a little bit of effort we can get things looking nice again, and I like how the quickbars provide a way to quickly identify country articles while also providing some succinct info for travelers. -- Ryan • (talk) • 21:55, 29 May 2007 (EDT)

Well, it's not looking like there is much support for my deletion proposal, so I will scale back. I say remove the following pieces of unimportant trivia from the quickbar and allow them to simply reside within the appropriate sections of a country article:

  • Flag — maybe other editors think it "looks nice," but it is totally irrelevant from a travel perspective
  • Government type — comparative government structure = encyclopedic content which is totally uninformative for a traveler's purposes; moreover, one-liner government descriptions are uselessly simplistic and silly
  • Area — why on earth would a traveler need to know the square kilometers of a country?
  • Language — we have an entire section of the travel guide ("Talk") devoted to this, why duplicate it here?
  • Internet TLD — a totally irrelevant factoid that belongs in an encyclopedia, not featured so prominently in our travel guides

Removing these sections would make the quickbar a bit less of an eyesore IMO and would help relieve the formatting pressures that the quickbar is putting on our country articles (e.g., Azerbaijan). It would also just make the quickbar more useful by sorting out the relevant information (e.g., calling code & electricity) from the absurdly irrelevant (area) and the simplistic and non-useful (government type). --Peterfitzgerald Talk 16:02, 2 June 2007 (EDT)

I don't think the area is "absurdly irrelevant"; it provides a sense of scale that's not otherwise obvious from just a map. I do think that the land area vs. water area data is of little value, which is why I've generally condensed that item to just the land area. I'm not overly attached to the other items you suggest removing. My earlier point about the template is that we can experiment and even implement the necessary changes (even going with your proposal of just a photo and a location map) using the template, without editing any of the articles. We decide we don't want to include TLD, and it's gone; we decide we want it back, and it's back. Etc. And I'll also be frank: the "problem" here isn't just the quickbar, but also the new regionlist template that apparently was constructed without checking to see whether it would actually work in the space available; it hardly seems fair to blame the quickbar for that. - Todd VerBeek 16:25, 2 June 2007 (EDT)
It may be that square km are just absurdly irrelevant to this traveler because I don't have any relative measurements on hand to compare. I prefer size comparisons with other well known countries or states and have tried to provide those, when relevant, in understand sections. And I don't think that the regionlist template has much anything to do with this problem besides making it obvious. The problem is that the long quickbar forces right aligned content (usually images) way down and this prevents editors from doing sensible things like putting a regions map next to the regions section. I'm still quite skeptical of the quickbar's value altogether, but would anyone object if I go ahead and remove the flag, government type, language, and Internet TLD sections as per my previous comment? That would at least reduce the problem a bit. --Peterfitzgerald Talk 16:55, 6 June 2007 (EDT)
I've got no objection to removing the TLD field, but language is useful, government is helpful, and flag has been there long enough that I've gotten kind of attached to it. If others want those fields removed I've got no real objection, but without comment from others I don't think too many changes should be made yet. Perhaps solicit further comment in the Pub? -- Ryan • (talk) • 19:57, 6 June 2007 (EDT)
I would object to removing any of the fields, except maybe the water/total areas. Jpatokal 22:40, 6 June 2007 (EDT)

Round two[edit]

Well I'm jumping in way late on this convo, but I actually came to propose something similar but less drastic than Peter... I also find a few sections could use ditching. TLD, government and area.... those are all far more relevant to Wikipedia than us... I used to just ignore them as something that doesn't really hurt to have, but I more and more agree with Peter, that's such valuable real estate up there, we could easily chop 5 lines off of it without losing any substance. I do like most of the other fields however. Jani would you reconsider? and are there any other objectors? – cacahuate talk 23:12, 5 July 2008 (EDT)

No, I would not reconsider. They're all basic data and there's no other sensible place to put them. Jpatokal 13:30, 6 July 2008 (EDT)
My position hasn't changed at all on this one—I still think the whole thing is both unnecessary and harmful. And I've yet to see any logical argument for why it should stay that rises above the purely assertoric. I think that only a few of these fields would qualify as "basic data" about countries (and even fewer would qualify as travel relevant basic data). And I'm bewildered by the notion that you'd think there's no other sensible place to put them. Here's my take on each element:
Image field — No need to do away with lead images, obviously, but there are benefits to using them sans quickbar: outside of a quickbar, one has more leeway to adjust the size of the lead image to accommodate different vertical/horizontal ratios.
Flag — I really don't see what the flag's relevance for travel is. Flags strike me as trivia, for which interested parties should consult an encyclopedia (or just a basic google image search), rather than a travel guide. Moreover, we delete state/provincial/municipal flags when people upload them as a matter of course—they do not serve the purpose of illustrating our guides and are about as travel-irrelevant as anything. If there is some pressing reason to keep national flags in our guides, we could anyway simply use thumbnails, which are way more flexible than a giant template.
Location — this is another Wikipedia import, that just doesn't strike me as that useful. I can see why someone might disagree, but again, it would be more flexible for page formatting purposes to use thumbnails rather than the template. I'd rather see these go altogether since I think they dampen enthusiasm for actually creating Wikitravel style region maps for each country, which would achieve the same purpose while also showing linked destinations & routes between them.
Capital — this field duplicates information that belongs (and almost always already is) in both the understand section and at the top of the cities list. The cities list part is hard policy.
Government — disclosure: I'm a political scientist. I cringe, and a little vomit appears in the back of my mouth, each time I look at this field for just about every country in the world. Trying create two-word descriptions for "government type" is a dead-end, stupidly reductionist, useless, and utterly travel-irrelevant exercise.
Here's one of my favorite disasters: Iran = theocratic republic. What the hell is that supposed to mean?! Firstly, Iran's republic is not theocratic, it is democratic in so far as people may vote for the republic's leadership, and corrupt & manipulated in that the electoral possibilities are vetted by an appointed council. But to call the government of Iran a republic is ludicrous — that's just one wing of a very convoluted governing system. Decisions taken by the republican executive, before its cabinet can implement them, are subject to veto by the Council of Guardians, and vetoes can then be appealed to the Expediating Council (selected by the Assembly of Experts); Expediating Council decisions can be overturned by the Supreme Leader. Both of these councils are unelected and are appointed by the Supreme Leader, who has always been a powerful Shiite ayatollah (but not necessarily the most powerful nor the most respected ayatollah in Iran!). The military is not under control of the republican leadership, it falls under direct control of the Council of Guardians. The Iranian Military is also not the only national militia, there are also the Revolutionary Guard, under The Judiciary leadership is hand picked by the Supreme Leader, which in turn selects lower level leadership. New Supreme Leaders are picked for life by the Assembly of Experts, which is elected democratically from a restricted pool of scholars on Islamic Jurisprudence (vetted by the Council of Guardians). I'm just scratching the surface of the Iranian government, though (and I'm not sure whether any of this rises above the level of interesting factoids to an actual traveler in the country) — much of the real power in Iran is wielded through leadership of the quasi-government corporatist foundations that regulate virtually all economic matters. And as for all the vetting, and for getting policies through the unelected branches (or even the elected ones) there's a complex web of feudal-style political marriages underwriting who gets where with whom.
Now that sort of info could go into an understand section (although I'm not sure we want so much detail on political systems, since most of it is just irrelevant for travel). If we want to develop an intelligent way of quickly dissecting government type as it is relevant for travelers, we could create a standard table for countries showing categories with numerical values for things like customs efficiency, police corruption, ease of obtaining visas, respect for human rights, and we could get ordinal scores for those from sophisticated sources outside this website. (They'd need to be updated yearly, though.) But the "government type" blather is an embarrassment; certainly not "basic data" with "nowhere else to go."
Currency — This info is duplicated under a dedicated Money section under Buy.
Area — As I argued above, displaying a raw number is not a good way to convey size. It's far more useful to compare its area to a better known quantity (e.g., Côte d'Ivoire is a large West African country, slightly bigger than Germany). If people are looking for quick data (trivia) about a country, they should look at an encyclopedia, not a travel guide. If someone feels like adding the numerical area of the country to an article, they can easily do it in the introductory paragraph or the understand section, but I see no real use for it anyway.
Population — ditto as for Area.
Language — rather than hoarding long lists of spoken languages at the top of the page, this information belongs (and is duplicated) in the Talk section.
Religion — this is another gross example of reductionism (data on religious affiliation means wildly different things across different countries with different cultural understandings of what it means to affiliate with a certain religion), and anyway belongs in the Understand section.
Electricity — this is the only field for which I find the quickbar useful. We don't have a great place to put it. Where do we discuss which kind of power adapter to bring, anyway?
Callingcode — info duplicated in the Contact section.
TLD — I fully realize that it may just be my ignorance, but I have no idea what purpose this info could possibly serve for a traveler. Although removing tld has been brought up numerous times on this page, no one's advanced any arguments for a) why this information is at all relevant to our goals, and b) why it must occupy space at the forefront of all country articles.
Time zone — belongs in Contact section.
There's a clear rationale to get rid of the quickbar altogether, that is, it takes up a ton of space at the top of articles disproportionate to the relatively low value it provides. Reducing it should be a no-brainer. Where am I wrong? What rationale exists behind these objections? --Peter Talk 16:28, 6 July 2008 (EDT)

Ah snap! Quickbar just got his aaaassssss smacked. Just to be clear, I only want to reduce, I like most of the info-at-a-glance. To me, the no-brainers are the 3 I mentioned before and I'll even throw in flag now. Sooooo... I'd like to propose ditching these:

  • Area – agree with Peter's argument... I'd like to delete all together, but failing that, reduce to just total
  • Government – Peter says it well... I'd argue that we delete it even on far less grounds—that it's encyclopedic, not usually travel-relevant, and can be dealt with in Understand if of particular interest.
  • TLD – the most irrelevant of all... when would you ever have to reference this? It's not a calling code. If a business uses their country-specific one, then it will be in their website address, you don't head up to the quickbar to see which TLD to add after the address. This one's a total no-brainer.
  • Flag – Takes up space, gives nothing to the traveler, it just looks nice and official. I say ditch it, but I won't shout too loudly about that one.

Peter I have other comments for keeping some of the other sections, though you bring good arguments... I'll save that convo for later though if needed, I'd like if we can at least come to a consensus to reduce this a bit, and not get bogged down with the whole enchilada. So can we ditch those 4 sections people? – cacahuate talk 02:25, 7 July 2008 (EDT)

Bump!!! Anyone else care to comment about this, or can I ditch these 4? Also, I just reduced the size of text to 85%, any objections? – cacahuate talk 23:17, 30 November 2008 (EST)
I wouldn't mind seeing TLD go away, but I think government is useful - there's clearly use for travel in knowing if a country is a democracy or a military dictatorship. The flag is a helpful way of visually differentiating country articles (useful for smaller countries) and area doesn't hurt to keep around. Religion would actually be my choice to remove ahead of any of these other three... Is the goal just to shrink the length of the quickbar? Does your font size change fix the problem, or are there other things we could do to change the display without losing data? -- Ryan • (talk) • 23:25, 30 November 2008 (EST)
Of those four, I'd only keep the flag. As Peter pointed out, the other things are typically already covered, and can be covered in much more accurate detail, in the Understand section. Texugo 23:31, 30 November 2008 (EST)

I still think that the quickbar should stay. Of course it's possible to cover all the information elsewhere, but the whole point of the quickbar that it's quick: one glance and I know if I'm dealing with a supercrowded modern city state (Parliamentary republic, 707.1 sq km, pop. 4,588,600) or an empty speck in the middle of nowhere (Territory of New Zealand, 10, pop. 1,431), what they speak and what kind of plugs I should bring along.

But I'll throw out a new idea: how about a collapsible box? Jpatokal 01:35, 1 December 2008 (EST)

I like the idea of a collapsible box, could someone make up a suggestion template somewhere? as for...

  • TLD I actually think it's useful.
  • I'd also really hate to see the flag go.
  • Government I can accept being removed, as the North Korea example shows we are on rocking ground with this one.
  • Area hmm I don't really care.

That's just my two cents --Stefan (sertmann) Talk 18:49, 1 December 2008 (EST)

I don't really mind the flag so much either... the font size helped I think some... but I still think TLD is utterly useless, and would rather see area and gov't covered in understand. Collapsible it an interesting idea too – cacahuate talk 20:28, 1 December 2008 (EST)

I agree the quickbar takes up too much space at the top of country articles. I would like to see extraneous information excised and the remainder moved to a box at the top of the Understand section. The photo and possibly the locator map should remain at the top, of course. LtPowers 14:55, 7 January 2009 (EST)

Round three[edit]

I somehow only just noticed LtPowers' suggestion to move the quickbar to the understand section, after slimming it down. I like the idea! I would suggest moving it off the top of the page, and removing the following (since I think there is something approaching a consensus that these at least should go):

  • Flag
  • Government
  • TLD

We could then move the image out of the template and to the lede, and perhaps move the locator map underneath it. (I tend to think a good regions map does the locator map's job better, though, and is a WT standard instead of a WP import.) --Peter Talk 17:47, 22 February 2011 (EST)

TLD is extremely unnecessary as it's always given with the address already and you don't need to memorise it in any way (as discussed before), so I think it should go. Government type may or may not stay, I don't really have a preference on that (but if it's removed from the quickbar, at least a short mention of that within the text of "understand" would be nice). Locator maps can be totally eliminated, as they are too small and simplistic to be of any use unless you have an idea about where the country more or less lies on earth in the first place. However, one of the things I really liked when I first came across with this site was the small flag followed by a representative picture at country articles. I'm not sure how this setup could be kept if the quickbox gets moved to "understand" (as the lead photo should then be left behind at its place at the top), but I'd really like the flags not be removed somehow. I don't have a reasonable justification for that, other than "I just like it that way", though. – Vidimian 18:38, 22 February 2011 (EST)
The flag could remain as the "header photo" for a quickbar relocated to understand. I don't have a particular aversion to flags—just flags eating up the most valuable real estate on the page. --Peter Talk 19:21, 22 February 2011 (EST)
I also like having the flag, but the government can go. Most of the time they are meaningless and they're highly subjective, depending on what relations an individual's country has with that government/country. Real government situations are better outlined in the Understand section. I also agree that TLD can go. I do have a question, though: Is this meant to allow us to move the Understand section down below the regions/cities? As it is now, the bar is practically already in the Understand section, since it is at the top. ChubbyWimbus 22:55, 22 February 2011 (EST)
Yes, it is to allow the understand section to be moved down so readers less familiar with our site don't miss our all-important geographical hierarchical navigation system (which certainly has been a problem in the past—there was even an article written on the web complaining about a huge city article, which "doesn't list attractions and restaurants, which led to the use of Template:PrintDistricts). It also would be useful just to prevent text from being so squished between the ToC and quickbar (a real issue on smaller screens, or for people with visual impairments that require larger text. --Peter Talk 11:06, 23 February 2011 (EST)
Hey, after rereading my comment for the first time in two years, I agree it sounds like an awesome idea. I just wish I was better at web design so I could craft a pleasing template to go with the idea. LtPowers 12:13, 23 February 2011 (EST)

Here's a mockup, using Mexico: Template talk:Quickbar/working -- What do you think? LtPowers 14:45, 1 August 2011 (EDT)

Wow, that's a huge improvement. Great work. I might consider adding the languages to the list as they are important to travelling, even though they are already covered in the Talk section. --globe-trotter 18:32, 1 August 2011 (EDT)
In many countries, it's impossible to distill the languages down to any sort of brief description. Take Pakistan, for instance: if you look at the quickbar, it appears that Punjabi is the most widely spoken language, with Urdu and English restricted to official uses... but if you read the Talk section, it becomes clearer that Urdu actually is the lingua franca and the one language widely understood throughout the country. LtPowers 19:54, 1 August 2011 (EDT)
Is there any particular reason that calling code was dropped? Additionally, the flag layout seems a bit awkward and might be better handled in its own row or as a smaller thumbnail with more padding. Otherwise, if there's a broad consensus to shrink the quickbar (I'm personally somewhat ambivalent) then this seems like a solid proposal. -- Ryan • (talk) • 21:18, 1 August 2011 (EDT)
I actually think the flag looks pretty good there. --globe-trotter 22:03, 1 August 2011 (EDT)
I would be absolutely thrilled with this change. I'll support Ryan's call to keep the calling code—that's pretty much the only thing I ever used the quickbars for as a reader. --Peter Talk 23:35, 1 August 2011 (EDT)
I support it too, to include the calling code. texugo 02:11, 2 August 2011 (EDT)
I added the calling code back in. I don't know why we'd want to put the flag on its own line when we're trying to conserve space. LtPowers 10:52, 2 August 2011 (EDT)
Are there any objections to implementing the new quick bar? --globe-trotter 15:20, 10 August 2011 (EDT)
I've templatized my mockup at Template:Quickbar/working. If anyone knows of any unusual cases (like Nepal, with it's non-standard flag), please give the template a try on a test page somewhere and let me know how it works. LtPowers 21:29, 16 August 2011 (EDT)
The flag still looks slightly odd to my eyes... what about the following minor change:
Current Proposed
Mexico noframe
Capital Mexico City (Distrito Federal)
Currency Mexican peso (MXN)
Mexico noframe
Capital Mexico City (Distrito Federal)
Currency Mexican peso (MXN)
That takes up slightly less space, and the flag doesn't look quite as squeezed in. -- Ryan • (talk) • 01:47, 19 August 2011 (EDT)
I don't think the flag looks squeezed in at all; rather, it's being used as a UI element in itself, like an icon on a GUI window or even (if you'll pardon the comparison) a corner field on a flag. Making it smaller and moving it away from the border makes it appear as if it was just pasted on rather than being part of the design. LtPowers 10:14, 19 August 2011 (EDT)
Agree with LtPowers that his version looks somewhat better. I do think it looks cleaner without the flag, but on the other hand I do think a flag should be included. --globe-trotter 16:55, 23 August 2011 (EDT)
I'm very happy with the revised template, and slightly prefer Ryan's version only because it is a little smaller. Is there any reason we shouldn't introduce this now? It would be good to start moving the understand sections back below the regions, cities, and ODs, as is standard everywhere else. That would be a task well combined with what would be a great CotM. --Peter Talk 17:44, 23 August 2011 (EDT)

The first step is to decide what to call the new template; then we can start replacing it on a country-by-country basis, while switching the Regions and Understand sections at the same time. LtPowers 10:03, 1 September 2011 (EDT)

From a pure graphic design POV, the positioning of the flag on the left hand example looks far better. There should not be unequal top, bottom and right margins. That's why the right hand example looks like a cut and paste rather than a design.--burmesedays 10:18, 1 September 2011 (EDT)
Do we really need to do this by hand? Why not simply make the changes to this template? --Peter Talk 22:38, 1 September 2011 (EDT)
I also prefer the design on the left above, for the same reason that Burmesedays stated above. texugo 00:53, 2 September 2011 (EDT)
The image inclusion syntax changed (necessary to allow the title bar to adjust to different-width flags), so the flag and location images wouldn't show up until that syntax was fixed. It would also hide the lead image on every country page until fixed, since the new template doesn't include a photo parameter. LtPowers 09:44, 2 September 2011 (EDT)

We have now included the quickbar under Understand at Russia, Thailand and Netherlands. I'm not really sure if I like it -- it doesn't really function as a quickbar anymore, as you have to scroll down to Understand to actually see it. --globe-trotter 10:44, 29 September 2011 (EDT)

Agreed - the point of the bar is to provide a "quick" overview and a visual indicator of the article type. It should be at the top of the page. -- Ryan • (talk) • 11:15, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
What exactly is in the quickbar that's so important to know that you can't scroll down to "Understand"? LtPowers 11:26, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
I meant that the quickbar kind of loses its original purpose. "Understand" implies that the reader is willing to read more deeply about a country's history and culture, while the quickbar is just for a quick peek. If the reader is reading Understand anyway, he/she might as well just look under the Electricity header to find more information about that, instead of using the quickbar. --globe-trotter 11:49, 29 September 2011 (EDT)

It would be really nice if we could put it at the top left corner, which would negate some of its disruptive effects. That would require changing the way we display the ToC, though. This discussion (was hard to find) was an interesting one, and I really liked what that user was working on. Perhaps we can revisit what to do with this post-MediaWiki upgrade? --Peter Talk 14:20, 29 September 2011 (EDT)
I don't see how moving it to the top-left would help anything, though I fully support any and all efforts to get that dang TOC out of the way. LtPowers 17:10, 29 September 2011 (EDT)

Round four[edit]

So there really seems only to be a clear consensus for removing Government, Religion and Language on the basis that the first "quick fact" is often an edit warrior and zealot's delight and the first two topics are better covered in depth in our "Understand" section any way, while "Language" has a whole "Talk" section to itself in any case.

The primary difficulty with the current quickbar is the "squeezed worm" that results (particularly on narrow screens and with the adverts displayed on the right with the majority of readers that have not logged in) when text is squeezed into a very thin column between a long quickbar on the right and a long table of contents (ToC) on the left. However, after these three headings are removed, this aberration can be further ameliorated by moving some content to the three "separation bars" currently occupied by the rubric of "Location", "Flag" and "Quick Facts".

If I have time I shall start on some example proposals using Burma... --Ttcf (talk) 22:10, 26 February 2014 (EST)

Collapsing quickbars[edit]

FYI, documentation on implementing collapsing frames is here on Wikipedia. Basically, it requires changes to Common.css and Common.js, both of which are admin-editable, so we can do it without IB involvement -- but it will increase the size of all WT pages by 5-10K. (Cached after being fetched the first time though, so probably not too big a problem.) Time to plunge forward and make it happen? Jpatokal 22:11, 7 January 2009 (EST)

RDF piggyback[edit]

Since every country article should have a quickbar, and only country articles should have a quickbar, I've piggybacked some RDF code that says "this article describes a country" into the quickbar template.

At some point it might be interesting to make some of the quickbar fields RDF attributes of the country, too. --Evan 13:15, 11 June 2007 (EDT)

Have a look at #Quickbar for Cities, as well as the articles using the quickbar. There are currently a number of cities that include this template. -- Ryan • (talk) • 13:40, 11 June 2007 (EDT)

Region and town templates[edit]

I appreciate that we don't necessarily want infobox overload, but IMHO if well done they improve the professional appearance of articles and enable key facts to be displayed neatly and clearly instead of padding out the text. In particular, could we consider infoboxes for:

I may be able to create the infoboxes based on the de.wikitravel ones. --SaxonWarrior 02:16, 10 May 2011 (EDT)

The trouble with infoboxes (or quickbars, as we call them here, since "infoboxes" are something else) is that they encourage the inclusion of non-travel-relevant information. Even our country quickbars are bloated with basically decorative information. They also don't lend themselves well to nuance, which can be much more usefully described in prose. LtPowers 08:57, 10 May 2011 (EDT)

I get that. So let's restrict the information displayed. For example, the Lower Saxony state article on de.wikitravel (de:Niedersachsen) only has the following info:

  • Photo (which occupies the normal place of an image in the header)
  • Location map - showing where the state is in the country
  • The state flag
  • Capital city
  • Status i.e. "federal state within the Federal Republic of Germany"
  • Area
  • Population

This is less than we have at country level, which also includes: language, currency, calling code, internet and time zone, none of which are needed (unless it's a large country where time zones vary). --SaxonWarrior 13:38, 10 May 2011 (EDT)

I would be in support of adding something that more clearly identifies top-level regions such as states, but ideally it would be something less intrusive than the quickbars used for country articles. I don't think that flag is particularly necessary, but a location map, capital, and perhaps a quicklink to the "Cities" section would be helpful. -- Ryan • (talk) • 13:57, 10 May 2011 (EDT)
I will work up a template for consideration if that's acceptable. BTW do we use sandboxes here? --SaxonWarrior 09:31, 12 May 2011 (EDT)
Under the auspices of the Region maps expedition, I have started an awful lot of region articles, and it had crossed my mind before that a tailored quickbar would be helpful. I look forward to seeing what you come up with. And yes on sandboxes - see: --Burmesedays 11:00, 16 May 2011 (EDT)
For regions: we don't need a bespoke infobox because we can just use the Template:Quickbar for countries and leave out any irrelevant parameters - see Lower Saxony for an example.
For cities and towns: as a trial I have created Template:QuickbarPlace - see it in use at Cologne. I don't particularly like the location map (too large, no detail and yuk colour) - see the template example - but that is a function of other templates, not this one. I'd also like to make the data column wider at the expense of the parameter column, but don't know how. I think most of the info is about right. If you want to visit a city or town it's a good idea to have a feel for its size, location, visit the official and tourist office websites and, while you're there, have a streetmap, know what numbers to ring in an emergency, etc, and how people could phone or write (hence dial code and post code). --SaxonWarrior 04:55, 19 May 2011 (EDT)
I'm pretty sure that infoboxes for city articles are something that was decided against and eliminated long ago. I would ask you not to include it anymore articles for now. I have a feeling most of the community is going to come down against this one, starting with me. texugo 11:06, 19 May 2011 (EDT)
I would agree with Texugo that the usefulness of an infobox for a city seems limited. For the region, I think the map is useful, but the flag seems unnecessary to me, and overall I'd like to see the box be a bit smaller so that it's not taking up so much space. As noted above, I think location map, a quicklink to the "Cities" section, and capital would probably be sufficient. -- Ryan • (talk) • 11:13, 19 May 2011 (EDT)
Truth be told, many people have found the quickbars unnecessary (or at least cluttered) even for countries. LtPowers 17:24, 19 May 2011 (EDT)

I think Template:QuickbarPlace looks great at Cologne and am wondering why folks think this is an undesirable move? A quick, organised reference for stats seems to me a lot less cumbersome than writing the same in long sentences. --Burmesedays 22:28, 19 May 2011 (EDT)

My disagreement boils down to two issues: I don't think the information presented in the quickbox for cities is particularly important for travel, and I like the idea that quickboxes are used relatively sparingly to provide a UI clue that an article is special - for example, current quickboxes provide a fast visual clue that you're viewing a country article. Regarding the first point, it's debatable how valuable the country-level quickbar info is, but I think it would be tough to make an argument that it isn't more important to know the government type, calling code, capital and currency of a country than it is to know the height above sea level of a city. I can possibly see some value if we used this box for top-level regions and huge cities as a way to quickly guide readers to the sub-region and district sections of the article via shortcut links, but I don't think it works well as part of the standard template for every city article on the site. -- Ryan • (talk) • 22:43, 19 May 2011 (EDT)
Yeah, I'd say that it basically comes down to this:
  • Population, if relevant, can be easily mentioned in the lead in prose in an approximate way (as is already in Cologne in addition to the infobox). There is no need to have exact census figures.
  • Area is largely irrelevant because it's quite relative to how the given country divides up their space, and also it's ultimate meaning is dependent on population density as well. Seeing the area of a city doesn't help me get an idea of what to expect, and we usually deem it extraneous encyclopedic information, even when it gets added in prose form.
  • Height above sea level is irrelevant to the traveller except in cases of a certain few cities with exceptionally high elevation, where it can be mentioned in prose.
  • Local dialing codes are already included any place that we list phone numbers, and lists of dialing codes for any large city or metropolis are likely to be very long. Ultimately they are useless unless you already have a full phone number to dial, in which case you already have the exchange number as well.
  • Time zone is info that belongs to only the country or region article because it will be the same for the surrounding region or country, hence we don't need to list it in every city.
  • Official website already has its place in the opening line of the article, just after the first mention of the city name.
It really doesn't leave much use for an infobox at all. texugo 23:00, 19 May 2011 (EDT)
Hmmm. An assumption there that our region articles are of any practical use. They are of course mostly empty and remain the single most unloved things at Wikitravel. The massive efforts made on a couple of specific regions have not had the desired effect of encouraging a wider effort. A region quickbar template would at least encourage some information appearing in those all those empty articles.
There is lots of information that we include in City articles (even in Stars) that in theory would be more appropriate in a Region or Country article - climate comes to mind immediately. The fact remains that the theory is largely ignored as nobody (with very few exceptions) does any work on region articles.
As an aside, I believe altitude is of interest to every intelligent traveler. For example, go anywhere in the tropics and see the effect of moving from sea level to even 500 metres - a very minor elevation change which will significantly effect temperature and humidity levels. --Burmesedays 01:18, 20 May 2011 (EDT)
Seeing the altitude alone doesn't help you predict anything, though. A wide variety of other factors influence climate as well. That's why we have the climate template. texugo 01:48, 20 May 2011 (EDT)
As a newcomer to Wikitravel, I think a smart city infobox give an article a professional and attractive appearance that encourages the reader to read on. With the right information it can also provide a useful rapid orientation.
I have taken the format straight from German Wikitravel, where, clearly they are very happy with it. However I think it needs improving in 2 ways: first, it should be reduced to the same size as the country infoboxes. Second, the maps (not a function of this template) need improving e.g. with a small country map as an inset and a region or state as the main map. I'd go for a less "in your face" colour too. Wikipedia has some good examples. I don't like the current map and would leave it out - see Bispingen
As for the info provided - that's a separate debate. I'd keep it relatively short: key facts only.
Finally, a newcomer comment: if we're too prescriptive about things that are relatively subjective (and this is one) we will put people off helping to improve and maintain Wikitravel. That would be a shame.
I propose we allow the infobox to be kept, but focus on improving it. --SaxonWarrior 02:33, 20 May 2011 (EDT)
For what it's worth, as a collector of atlases when I was a kid and beyond, I like facts and figures about places. I'm not the only one, and those who aren't interested can easily skip over the info boxes. Clearly, I vote "Yes" on them, at least in principle. Ikan Kekek 02:43, 20 May 2011 (EDT)
PS I've reduced box width to 250px and font size to 85%. This matched the country infobox and looks better - see Bispingen - but note that if the map is included it widens the box to 300px for some reason. For now I'd leave the map out until we sort it. --SaxonWarrior 07:03, 20 May 2011 (EDT)
Box content is not a separate issue-- if there are only one or two things it's going to contain, then there is no need for a box to be crowding up the lead of every article in the first place. I like facts and figures too, but they belong in an encyclopedia, not here. Please remember that if we allow this template, then it's probably going to have to go into every city article. (The linked discussions below make some good points about the immense amount of work this would imply, with our tens of thousands of city articles.) And do we really need an infobox listing every zip code and dialing exchange in New York City?? (I have already demonstrated the uselessness of having dialing codes in the box anywhere, and we've already deemed zip codes to be so irrelevant that we don't even allow them in listings.)
This is not the first time this idea has come up-- see Template talk:Quickbar#Quickbar for cities, and while I didn't participate in the discussion then, I will add my voice to those that shot it down the first time. A number of people already want to chop down the country quickbox and or move it, or just eliminate it entirely and I count myself among those too. Quickbars squash the lead and give prime real estate to information that is basically a list of irrelevant curiosities.texugo 07:37, 20 May 2011 (EDT)
I take your points, Texugo. Your arguments are very convincing, in my opinion. I think I'd still argue somewhat to keep infoboxes at the nation-state level, but your point that if we allow them for some cities, they would be expected to be put in all of them tends to win me over in regard to cities, unless some other logical rationale for where the templates should and should not be included that makes some kind of logical distinction between cities can be advanced. Ikan Kekek 08:14, 20 May 2011 (EDT)
I don't find Texugo's arguments convincing at all. 1. No one's proposing an infobox with only "one or two things". 2. The lede has to be punchy and attractive, box or no box, so it'll be crowded with something either way. 3. No one's proposing adding a box to every article. 4. There's no immense amount of work - articles can be improved over time. That's the point of a wiki. I'd just like to use them for our region. 5. Re New York City: we can pick and choose what the box displays for any given city or omit the box entirely. 6. Surely you're not suggesting we can only discuss an idea once? 7. Clearly there are some for and some agin, and probably some in between. 8. No one's suggesting the box should contain irrelevant curiosities. I believe some articles look far more professional and attractive with a decent infobox, good photo and some crunchy facts alongside a short lede. Far more likely to attract travellers - which is surely the aim. --SaxonWarrior 13:39, 20 May 2011 (EDT)

I think it would be great to have quickbars for all region articles. As I see it, it would be helpful to readers to have an overview map showing where the region is located, and also giving a quick way to direct to subregions and cities in the region. In relation to cities, I am not convinced that it would be good to have it for every city, but for huge cities, I think it would be helpful to have such quickbars including an overview map of the location and quick links to city districts. I am not convinced by the arguments about information not being of interest to travelers, we should of course restrict the information to travel related facts, but I do not see why information about flag, height, area, population etc should not be relevant, it is certainly something I would be interest in for any region or city I visit. Besides, quickbars will make our articles look more uniform and professional, --ClausHansen 17:51, 20 May 2011 (EDT)

It sounds like there may not be consensus to include quickboxes for all city articles, but that there might be hesitant support for high-level region articles (there is some strong disagreement, but several people have expressed support as well). Would it make sense to try this out by (for now) removing the boxes from city articles but adding them to the articles for German states? That would allow people to tweak the implementation, discuss something concrete, and hopefully move this discussion towards some sort of resolution. I think Saxon's point that "if we're too prescriptive about things that are relatively subjective (and this is one) we will put people off helping to improve and maintain Wikitravel" is a valid one, and sometimes there is too much resistance to change - that can be a good thing when it comes to keeping things consistent, but it also hinders progress and innovation, which is a danger for a site that relies on having a vibrant community. -- Ryan • (talk) • 19:02, 20 May 2011 (EDT)
That sounds like a very sensible suggestion to me Ryan. --Burmesedays 22:16, 20 May 2011 (EDT)
That sounds really helpful. I also notice that Michelin guides have a different set of key facts in their "infoboxes" - which I guess is based on customer research. I'd like to trial that and see how it's received against a) no infobox and b) a cut-down version of what we have here. Could I therefore also propose as a trial that we be allowed to experiment with different city boxes for just a very limited area e.g. Lower Saxony. I can get some folks working on this, so we can have fresh minds and I may be able to do a "customer survey". We can then decide downstream which way to go. I think Wikitravel is a brilliant concept and was intending to have my team get this area at "guide" standard by Christmas anyway and this could just be part of that work. --SaxonWarrior 22:49, 20 May 2011 (EDT)
Not saying that I will ultimately support its use, but I can agree to let you demo test a quickbar only on the 16 German state articles. A city quickbar is still totally and completely out of the question because, again-- yes, essentially you are proposing something that would have to go in every city article because, for the sake of consistency across the site, and for the sake of patrollability we need clear criteria. Even if we decide to allow a quickbar for only top-level regions/states, that is still going to mean many hundreds of quickbars that need to be created, which is indeed an "immense amount of work". Let me just go ahead and respond to your points above:
1. No one's proposing an infobox with only "one or two things".
No one has demonstrated the usefulness of more than one or two of the items either.
2. The lede has to be punchy and attractive, box or no box, so it'll be crowded with something either way.
I'm talking about squeezing the physical format of the text into a little column between the TOC and the infobox, which is one of the reasons some don't like the country quickbars we already have and have expressed interest in moving them down to the Understand section.
3. No one's proposing adding a box to every article.
That is exactly what you are proposing, by default. Unless you have some spiffy criteria for allowing contributors and patrollers to know when and when not to include them, then it's a free-for-all on several hundreds of top-level region article, or worse, tens of thousands of city article pages. Again, an enormous amount of work to bring the site back close to being consistent again. It's even worse than a site-wide article template change, because each quickbar would require some research to fill it out properly.
4. There's no immense amount of work - articles can be improved over time. That's the point of a wiki. I'd just like to use them for our region.
Yeah, see above.
5. Re New York City: we can pick and choose what the box displays for any given city or omit the box entirely.
No, no and no. That would open up a huge can of squabbles over what to display or not display here or there. Consistency benefits readers, contributors, and patrollers alike, and we've always strived for consistency across our articles. I don't expect us to stop now. Plus, you are never going to convince me of the utility of using prime real estate at the top of the page to tell me what area code is already included on every phone number on the page, no matter what the size of the city. Those codes by themselves are meaningless.
6. Surely you're not suggesting we can only discuss an idea once?
Of course not. But I do want to point out that the opinions expressed about the first attempt are equally valid now and must be addressed if we are to move forward.
7. Clearly there are some for and some agin, and probably some in between.
As Ryan said above, there is some tentative support, mostly from relatively new users, to try it out on top-level regions. And sure, some think the box looks nifty, but I'm not sure everyone has fully realized the implications here. This would be a massive site-wide transition that will take months. If people support the idea and talk about it in realistic terms, demonstrating its value to be worth months of quickbox research/insertion work, I will be much more willing to listen than if it's just "facts are neat-o, let's put 'em in".
8. No one's suggesting the box should contain irrelevant curiosities.
We appear to disagree on the relevancy of the items you have included. I have already stated why I think most of them are irrelevant and still wonder why you think it's useful to include dialing codes when they are already included in all listings, duplicate emergency numbers that are the same for every city in the country, duplicate the same time zone info for every city in the country, duplicate the website link when it's already at the top of the page, etc. As a sidenote, Wikitravel has a strong bias against duplicating identical info in every article.
So yeah, go ahead and create a test for German states. Just don't expect this to be an easy fight to get the go-ahead for rampant quickbar proliferation. We need to demonstrate the real usefulness and desirability of it because it's a lot bigger policy change than you think it is.texugo 02:35, 21 May 2011 (EDT)

I am also sceptical about their usefulness below country articles. I wonder if the real problem is just that people are not looking at regional articles with content/maps. Looking at Chugoku, for example, I think the map is enough as is to showcase the region without an info box. Other information can easily be put in the text. Of course, I will wait to see how these German articles look and what content is placed there. ChubbyWimbus 03:27, 21 May 2011 (EDT)
I am not sure that the tentative support is from such relatively new or inexperienced users as stated. I have made about 20,000 edits here and I suspect that Claus would have a similar number to his name.
I look forward to seeing how the German top level region articles look with this template.
A key benefit here could be having region articles that actually contain some helpful content.--Burmesedays 05:05, 21 May 2011 (EDT)
I was referring to the other two users.texugo 06:24, 21 May 2011 (EDT)
@Texugo. I have no desire for a fight; I only wish to develop the outstanding potential of Wikitravel for the benefit of others. I'd also like to understand better how changes are achieved here. Is there a consensus approach or a panel that approves changes? If so, what's the process? And does anyone check what customers want to see? Also does every article have to look the same? It seems a pity if the format is universal and fixed for ever with no room for variety or creativity? I apologise for my inexperience on Wikitravel, but would appreciate constructive help and support. It will avoid nugatory work by me and others here. --SaxonWarrior 15:05, 21 May 2011 (EDT)
Wikitravel:Consensus is the guiding principle for decision making. Achieving consensus can sometimes take a while, but in this case there seems to be some agreement that adding quickbars for the German states is a good starting point for further discussion so I think you would be fine to move ahead with that, and it should give everyone involved the ability to come to some sort of agreement using a concrete implementation for discussion purposes. I think one of the fears many people here have (myself included) is that it is a significant amount of work to agree to standards and guidelines on a wiki, so anything that introduces major changes (in this case a modification to high level regions) tends to require a lot of time and discussion to find a mutually-acceptable solution. In the end, however, things usually work out for the best :) -- Ryan • (talk) • 15:38, 21 May 2011 (EDT)
Thanks Ryan, I can understand the nervousness, especially when time and effort has been spent getting it to where it is today. --SaxonWarrior 16:05, 21 May 2011 (EDT)

I think adding a quick bar would be useful for regions and cities, as they would provide necessary information that is hard to write about in the Understand section. To get a scope of what a city/region is like, it is useful to know its amount of inhabitants and its sq. km., but writing this out in prose is kind of dull. Also, quick bars could make the site look more professional, just like Wikipedia features quick bars on most of its places.

The only thing I'm not sure about is regions that do not have official borders, such as Northern Germany. Adding a quick bar for those regions does not make sense as there are no criteria for what "Northern Germany" actually consists of. --globe-trotter 14:17, 1 June 2011 (EDT)

I would love to never do this... This should be no surprise given my diatribes here, where I (and others) have listed complaints against this dreaded template in great detail (so I won't repeat them all here). I would prefer to eliminate them from countries instead, as it takes up too much space, duplicates work that should be done in the subsections of the article, adds all sorts of unwarranted emphasis to trivial pieces of information, and generally look like an awkward Wikipedia import that do not further our aims. Just my opinion of course, although I was sort of under the impression that we were moving at least in the direction of getting rid of them altogether prior to this discussion. --Peter Talk 19:59, 2 June 2011 (EDT)
I think there is a distinct split in opinion here, even amongst some seasoned WT veterans. I would be very surprised if we ever reach concensus for a change - some folks clearly like the idea of a neat, tabulated solution for stats, and others like a prose-driven approach.--Burmesedays 22:48, 2 June 2011 (EDT)


How come there's yet to be any sort of Quickbar guidelines for subdivisions of countries? It doesn't seem fair that soverign countries should only recive the Quickbar. Seqqis (talk) 00:10, 7 November 2014 (EST)

To try and answer the first part of your question, there actually are guidelines.
At the time of writing this, the guidelines are:
"...quickbars should ONLY be used for articles about sovereign countries and their separately-administered territories (generally speaking, places with their own 2-character ISO country code and Internet Top-Level Domain). It should not be used for US states, Canadian provinces, or any other article type."
As to the rest, I hope it doesn't seem like a quibble, but it's not just sovereign states like the New Zealand that get a quickbar, their separately-administered territories like the Cook Islands and Niue also qualify since there is enough material to make it helpful for travellers - eg different internet top level domain, country calling code and time zone, for example.
The reasons for this are extensively discussed in the sections above and I would add an "in-house" one: If quickbars are added willy-nilly elsewhere some editors like to endlessly debate exactly what type of government system they have, how it should be characterised, what languages are officially used and other WP style discussions rather than adding material of real use to travellers... Very little of the useful information in that London quickbar are not duplicated elsewhere in the UK quickbar, for example. --Ttcf (talk) 00:35, 7 November 2014 (EST)