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Wikitravel talk:Bodies of water

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Moved from Talk:Thousand Islands by Evan

Maj, why did you unlink Lake Ontario? I had the impression that we could link them in order to have an article about the lake's region. The lakes are linked on the Great Lakes page too. So, what would be the best way to have articles on these regions? Akubra 16:22, 7 Apr 2004 (EDT)

So, a couple of things: Lake Ontario isn't a region in our geographical hierarchy. We have other region criteria for this part of the world, like states on the US side and provinces on the Canadian side. Contrast Lake Tahoe, which is a region in California.
We don't have a way to deal with bodies of water yet. I'm extremely wary of it, but I realize that it's one of the other ways of seeing travel. Maybe we need to start a MoS section on bodies of water and see where it goes. --Evan
Well are yout talking about the Lake Ontario region? or the lake itself? The St. Lawrence river I think is pretty clearly not a destination under Wikitravel:What's an article?, but lakes as regions _might_ be different. But wouldnt there be a lot of overlap between a Lake Ontario Region page and the pages about the actual places in the region? I know someone is going to bring up sleeping on boats next... Majnoona 16:39, 7 Apr 2004 (EDT)

Evan, I know Lake Ontario isn't one of "our" regions. That said, it could say a little about what's common about the places bordering the lake. I would find it very strange not to have articles about large or well known bodies of water on Wikitravel. (Think about Lake Titicaca and its possibilities: staying on the reed islands with the Uros Indians, to name something.) IMO, the least we can do is link to the appropriate regions.

Maj, I honestly don't understand what you mean by saying I know someone is going to bring up sleeping on boats next... Think of Amsterdam and its canals (where you can sleep on boats), think of Leh and its houseboats... Secondly, I'm also not convinced that the St. Lawrence is not a destination. It could be an itinerary. For example, I would expect the Amazon to give me information on how to get from Belem to Manaus and further (or vice versa). Trips are also done on the Mahakam river in Borneo. And there are many more examples. I don't know if there are trips offered on the St. Lawrence?

As a general note, I realize we should have a certain amount of guidelines, but sometimes I get the feeling we're just too strict, and by being so we cut off certain possibilities or aspects of travel that can give an added value and can differentiate us from the classic guidebooks. Akubra 17:11, 7 Apr 2004 (EDT)

I absolutely grok that. I think there's a couple of different factors at work. One thing is that every word of text on Wikitravel costs attention and effort from the rest of the community. So exploration, which is personal, becomes a community issue.
Second, one thing I've noticed is that there's a cascading effect with any change. Contributors copy what they see on Wikitravel far more than reading stuff out of the MoS or whatever. So small diversions become large ones -- which also take effort to clean up if we decide they're not what we want. I think that might be why we make a big deal out of small issues.
I think there's a massive balancing act between encouraging creativity and exploration and keeping the project on-target for our goals. If we make Wikitravel a total boring straight-jacket, nobody's going to want to do it. But if it's a complete free-for-all, we've just got another Wikipedia or Everything2.
Somewhere in the middle we've gotta find a place for Wikitravel. It takes some work. --Evan 23:56, 7 Apr 2004 (EDT)

I agree when you say Wikitravel should not be an environment where rules rule. I also agree that anarchistic rampage should not be tolerated. But I think that more than a few travellers are by nature "adventurous" and like to look at the world from different angles. I also like to look at Wikitravel from different angles, and as a contributor I regularly find myself wondering: "what would I expect from this article" or "what articles would I expect to find here". And bodies of water are one of the things I would expect to find. Of course, and following the same guidelines as for any other article, the pond on the other side of the block from your house does not really count...

So what does count? Right now I'm seeing three main criteria that could be used (obviously, there may be more):

  • Large, important bodies of water (eg. Lake Superior)
  • Well known bodies of water (eg. the Nile)
  • Bodies of water that have an intrinsic touristic value (eg. Loch Ness)

Bodies of water that are mainly accessed from a city or region should be mentioned in the appropriate article, with a redirect from the body of water.

In general, I think we should follow about the same guidelines as with individual attractions (Angkor, Disneyland, ...) Akubra 16:14, 8 Apr 2004 (EDT)

My two main things are this: 1) Wikitravel is a travel guide, not an atlas. We don't have to have an article for every major geographical feature of the Earth. 2) Just because something is well-known or important, doesn't mean we need a Wikitravel article about it.
Anyways, I want to be proven wrong on this. Maybe someone(s) can start working on a body of water page separate from the kinds listed on bodies of water (that is, not an itinerary, travel topic, or region-with-a-b.o.w.-name)? I wouldn't be too into changing every single article on Wikitravel to have 8 links to nearby b.o.w.'s, but maybe we could start experimenting a bit. --Evan 20:06, 8 Apr 2004 (EDT)

I never meant to say that bodies of water which are not itineraries, travel topics, or regions-with-a-b.o.w.-name are suitable subjects for Wikitravel articles. Well, I guess the idea I did comes from my three criteria. Now that I read them again I understand how you came to think so. Actually, the third criterium is the most important. But in many cases, a large or well-known body of water almost automatically has value for tourists. You may just as well drop the first two. Akubra 17:02, 9 Apr 2004 (EDT)

How should bodies of water be classified?[edit]

Moved from Wikitravel:Travellers' pub by Evan

In New Zealand we have a number of bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, harbours, and the sea that are seen as tourist attractions in their own right. In particular, Cooks Strait is travelled daily by hundreds, even thousands, of people. Others go there to fish, sail or even swim it! While some material can be included in city and regional articles, I think some bodies of water, like the English Channel deserve their own articles. Can anyone suggest how to best approach these situations? -- Huttite 03:58, 4 Apr 2004 (EDT)

In general, we don't have articles for geographical features of a place, like mountain ranges, deserts, or bodies of water. We haven't needed to so far. Sometimes we've used the name of a prominent body of water for describing a region, like Lake Tahoe on the California-Nevada border. But that's about the towns and national parks ringing the lake, not about the lake itself.
I think describing bodies of water is an important way of seeing travel, and would have some use for, say, sailors or divers. I'm just worried that it's a slippery slope. Wikitravel is not an atlas, after all. --Evan 14:41, 4 Apr 2004 (EDT)
I agree that only very prominent bodies of water should be listed, and in many cases they will have a town or region of the same name. But there are a few (a very few) places I can think of where there is no region that has the same name and/or coverage as the body of water AND travelling into, across or along the body of water is something a traveller would do and want to know about. Ferries and other ways of crossing a narrow strait (like the English Channel) would be one situation. Travelling along navigable waterways like canals and rivers like the Panama and Suez, or those in Britian and North America might be another. While sailing could be a whole cluster of articles before one even thinks about a destination. A lot of these articles could be written as itineraries, but there are a few bodies of water where the water is a destination in itself, and being on, in and under the water, away from any land is a destination. I see the English Channel as being one place and Cooks Strait as being another. Both lie between areas of land and separates both of the land regions, but neither of the land regions includes the body of water. There might be a few other places in the world like this. - Huttite 09:21, 6 Apr 2004 (EDT)
I am obviously trying to disagree with you about the Bristol Channel not being a destination. I have holidayed there on numerous occasions, obviously travelling by boat. It might be classified as a region because it encompasses many attractions and destinations. Yes you can sleep there whether you are aboard a vessel or staying in any of the hostelries along the coast, or on the islands that provide accomodation, such as Flatholm, Caldy or Lundy. If the consensus of opinion is to delete it then so be it, 'que sera sera'.Brianeric 17:49, 14 February 2009 (EST)

Retrieved from ""

About this page[edit]

So, I got this page started based on two different discussions going on on different parts of the site. I thought there were some excellent points made, and I wanted to pull together our ideas about them into one place.

I've written up what I think is the current state of the guide and what's my opinion about how we should handle bodies of water. I tried to grab some of the great suggestions that have come up about itineraries, travel topics, regions, etc., too.

I'm personally still unconvinced as to why we need English Channel. Could we write an article about all the ferries across the English Channel, its breadth, its history, islands in the channel, nice places to see it or be on it? Definitely. Does it fit into a travel guide? That I'm not sure about.

One of my big problems with bodies of water is this: I hate the idea of having an incomplete Ontario (province) page because a contributor added most of the coastal information to the Lake Michigan page instead. I would hate for us not to have good ferry information in Dover#Get in because it was put on the English Channel.

I'd like to make it real easy to get important information in one "right place", even if that means forcing some admittedly arbitrary ideas of where that "right place" is. --Evan 23:56, 7 Apr 2004 (EDT)

islands in a lake that are attractions[edit]

In Skadar lake, there are several small islands that are attractions by themselves. The Skadar lake can be explored by boats that can be rented from multiple towns around the lake. Where is it best to stick info on that attractions / islands? --DenisYurkin 19:57, 13 June 2008 (EDT)

BUMP :-) --DenisYurkin 04:50, 29 June 2008 (EDT)

decision procedure on large lakes[edit]

How do we decide whether a specific lake can be a separate article? My question is about Skadar lake in Montenegro. --DenisYurkin 10:13, 29 June 2008 (EDT)

Basically it boils down to this: if the lake is a region, then it's OK, otherwise it's not. So eg. Lake Biwa in Japan is OK, because it's in a single prefecture, hemmed in by mountains and there's no other sensible way to group the cities on the rim -- but eg. Wikipedia:Lake Superior is not, because it's surrounded by two countries and four states/provinces. Jpatokal 12:16, 29 June 2008 (EDT)
But what, then, should a user who searches "Lake Superior" see? LtPowers 15:15, 10 December 2008 (EST)
If we need to show something then a redirect to Great Lakes probably makes sense. -- Ryan • (talk) • 15:55, 10 December 2008 (EST)
Ah, but what makes Great Lakes suitable for an article? LtPowers 08:55, 18 March 2009 (EDT)

Change of policy on bodies of water..[edit]

There have been discussions from time to time in vfd about bodies of water. Generally, there seems to be some momentum to support articles of some description for some bodies of water. There are examples where this policy would appear to be ignored, for example Lake Como, or where redirects are in place without necessarily being guided by policy for example Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean.

My proposal is that the bodies of water policy continue to prohibit articles about the body of water. Instead, a reference/disambiguation/redirection be created to usefully guide the wikitraveller to the information available about travelling to, in and around the body of water in the appropriate destination guides, itineraries, and travel topics.


  1. If the body of water name is also a land region name, this policy does not apply to the land region. Create an article, redirection or disambiguation for the land region as we would for any other land region.
  2. Create a reference article for the body of water. This will look like a disambiguation type page that will contain links to articles and travel topics that contain the information about the body of water.
  3. The links should be to a region level appropriate to the size of the body of water.
  4. There is no compulsion to create articles on a body of water just because it exists, just like we don't create articles for every crossroads, we don't create reference articles for every body of water.

For example,

Pacific Ocean is a large body of water. Should be a reference article that would link to the continental region articles adjacent or containing the ocean, travel topics that concern seeing, cruising, or experiencing the body of water.

Sydney Harbour is a small body of water. It would link to the Sydney article for cruise information, and to a harbour islands article, if one exists.

Mediterranean Sea is a large body of water. It would link to the countries adjacent to it, and to any travel topics we have for cruising or seeing it.

Nile River is a long body of water. It would link to the countries adjacent to it, to any destination guides that contain information specific to the river, and to travel topics containing information on activities in it

etc. --inas 20:12, 9 June 2009 (EDT)

I like the idea in principle. I am interested to see what objections might be presented, though. =) LtPowers 08:44, 10 June 2009 (EDT)
The policy has never been an absolute ban, it already says "Some regions are best described by a major body of water in the region."
Your Sydney Harbour example is a simple redirect, and the rest are what I'd call "extended disambigs" -- articles that do not contain travel info in themselves, but just point the user to places where they can find some. These are, IMHO, already within Wikitravel policy and practice, see eg. Rhine. Jpatokal 09:22, 10 June 2009 (EDT)
"Some regions are best described by a body of water in the region", the example given is Lake Tahoe. What that means to me is that a land region is often best named by an associated body of water. There are lots of towns, regions, and others that are named by an associated water body, and this is what that part of the policy refers to. Read what I have suggested again, as it isn't a radical departure from what you are saying, it just consolidates the current practice and policy. An "extended disamb", is confusing terminology, as we are not really disambiguating anything. The person knows the body of water they are referring to. I prefer the terminology "reference article", but I don't really care what you want to call it, if the outcome is the same.
Please don't say that policy doesn't need clarification. Go back through all the discussions in vfd on bodies of water, and I'd be truly surprised if you could still say that the policy and practice is clear. --inas 21:45, 10 June 2009 (EDT)
My interpretation of the policy has always been that, yes, the region is about the land around the water, but that could mean just the shoreline towns. I don't think Lake Como violates the policy as written at all, and it seems a perfectly reasonable region article. I'm leery of anything called a reference article; I think if an article isn't a travel article, lets get rid of it, excepting the necessary evil of disambiguation pages.
Personally, I think this policy article itself is unnecessary, and is the source of persistent confusion. Wikitravel:What_is_an_article?#What_does_not_get_its_own_article.3F should be able to do the task just fine. All that needs follow is that we allow travel articles that are clearly describing a coherent travel region, while deleting/redirecting encyclopedic entries that seek to describe the geographic non-destination, rather than the region itself.
What to do with large bodies of water that keep getting created, but do not serve as coherent travel regions? I favor simply deleting them, as we would do for any other geography that is not suited to a travel article. But I'm not opposed turning them into "disambiguatory" lists of countries either. Whatever we do, lets not write articles about them. --Peter Talk 02:05, 11 June 2009 (EDT)
Okay - so, you are okay with creating "disambiguatory" articles for Bodies of Water, as it appears is Jpatokal. You both don't appear to like calling them reference articles (I don't care about the terminology, they are index entries, in effect, the "reference" comes from the fact they only reference other articles, but I can see that is less than ideal terminology too). Do you agree that these articles should also contain links to appropriate travel topics, so Baltic Sea, would not just contain link references to destination guides, but also a link to the cruising travel topic? When there is a land region and destination that is clearly associated with a body of water everything seems to be okay. Any more complex than that, and we seem to have problems. --inas 02:31, 11 June 2009 (EDT)
The name "reference article" sounds a bit too much like Wikipedia to my taste. "Redirection article", then? And these shouldn't be limited to bodies of water, but regions of any sort that don't happen to fit in our region hierarchy, like Everest (which points to the separate articles for the Nepalese and Chinese sides of the mountain).
And if an article keeps getting created, then that means there are travelers who keep on looking for it, and we need to serve those travelers, not give them red links. Jpatokal 05:24, 11 June 2009 (EDT)

I'm in complete agreement with inas. Jani and Peter seem to think the policy is perfectly clear, but the VfD page has several bodies of water articles on it that were nominated simply because they're bodies of water, and that's because this policy page has been interpreted as saying "don't create articles for bodies of water (unless it's used to name a land region)". I agree with inas that we should clarify what policy should be on those topics, and I agree that pages named after the body of water (pages that aren't land regions, that is) should be indices to communities, regions, and other topics that have to do with the body of water.

For example, if someone searches "Erie Canal", they get a list of pages that mention the canal (or other canals plus "Lake Erie"), but I'm not sure that's really all that useful. It seems far better to create a page that says "The Erie Canal runs through New York (state), passing through these regions and these communities. You can Bike the Erie Canal path or go Boating on the Erie Canal." (A couple conjectural travel topics.)

-- LtPowers 06:59, 11 June 2009 (EDT)

I agree that the wording policy needs to be clarified because it keeps on getting misinterpreted, but anointing the existing practice of "redirection pages" belongs somewhere else — Wikitravel:Disambiguation pages? Jpatokal 08:08, 11 June 2009 (EDT)
Please explain why you think the policy on what we do with bodies of water named pages should be discussed elsewhere than the discussion page for Bodies of Water? This is verging on bizarre?!? If the discussion results in a decision to make disambiguation pages for bodies of water, by all means lets continue it there, and update that page. Right now, there are a number of things at issue here. For example do we want more articles like Lake Como, which really are about the body of water rather than the area surrounding it. These discussions would be totally inappropriate there. I don't believe we have concluded that we even want index pages for bodies of water. Certainly I'm not convinced that the issue here is about resolving any ambiguity.
I would really suggest that if you think the current policy is clear, have a go at updating the policy page so it reflects that clarity. After all if we are all happy with the current policy then perhaps we don't need to change anything. --inas 00:55, 15 June 2009 (EDT)
While we are thinking, I've created a new Sydney Harbour edit here [1]. How does that compare to the plain redirection page? How does it compare to the original article [2] created before I put the redirection in place a couple of months ago. The original article I would consider to be about the body of water. It isn't a bad article, but it has a style in common with the Lake Como article, which at the time I thought was against our policy. --inas 02:30, 15 June 2009 (EDT)

I've added a paragraph to the policy to clarify that redirects and disambigs are allowed and encouraged. Do we need anything else? Jpatokal 03:25, 15 June 2009 (EDT)

So, given that we are now essentially saying that bodies of water should be redirection/disambigs, is it okay to proceed to add that itineraries and travel topics associated with the body of water can also be added to these disambiguation articles? --inas 21:19, 23 June 2009 (EDT)
Sure, but this change belongs in Wikitravel:Disambiguation pages. (Doesn't hurt to note it here as well, though.) Jpatokal 22:46, 23 June 2009 (EDT)
Okay, so I'll tweak here, the Wikitravel:Disambiguation pages, and the deletion policy as well, since I see an implication there that bodies of water should be considered for deletion. I'll do so on the basis that I'm just clarifying the de-facto policy, and make amending notes to that effect, referring to this discussion. If anybody objects, we can clarify further. --inas 23:16, 23 June 2009 (EDT)
I've had a go here. If it sticks, I'll move on to the other two.. --inas 02:27, 26 June 2009 (EDT)
Updated Wikitravel:Disambiguation pages, one to go.. --inas 21:03, 28 June 2009 (EDT)


Following continued confusion on the vfd page, and in the discussion above, I've tried my hand at a rewrite of this article to reflect the basic intent of our article criteria. That is, we don't write about geographical objects for the heck of it—only if they are coherent travel destinations that meet our basic "what is an article?" criteria. Thoughts? --Peter Talk 01:05, 28 September 2009 (EDT)

If your changes are accepted, we may as well just redirect this to what is an article, and add a extra line to that. Perhaps this is reasonable, perhaps not.
Two observations. Firstly, the confusion above related to whether bodies of water should be disambiguation/redirection pages, and not to the area you have changed. Secondly, I don't think what is happening on vfd is correctly characterised as confusion. People have different ideas over arranging hierarchies, what is an article, and whether intention of policies, practice and precedents counts for as much as guidelines. That is fairly fundamental stuff, and not just "confusion".
In any event, probably best to revert and get consensus first, I would have thought. It isn't as if there isn't some contention in this area. --inas 01:29, 28 September 2009 (EDT)
I don't know if there is contention regarding my changes. If there is, we can revert, or edit it further. I'd be fine with redirecting this article to wiaa, since I think it's served only to distort, confuse, and at worst contradict that policy. --Peter Talk 01:33, 28 September 2009 (EDT)
Reverted. I'm sorry but I really want to dispute this change. I see a huge disparity in tone between your saying "However, bodies of water often are coherent travel destinations" and wiaa saying "With a few very rare exceptions (see below) there should not be articles about individual bodies of water." You also deleted the bit about redirects, which was supported in the above conversation. Your rewording, to me, constitutes a great policy shift towards allowing a great many more body of water articles than we have allowed up to this point, so I'd like to hash it out here. I think we had better get a list of checklist of criteria for when to allow such articles.Texugo 01:33, 28 September 2009 (EDT)
I've put my rewrite here for discussion, and you can see the changes here [3]. When to redirect is covered at the deletion policy, so I don't see any value in repeating that here. The "exceptions" are rare as a percentage of all bodies of water on the planet, but I don't think valid articles that satisfy the "can you sleep there" test should be discriminated against simply for their water content. What exactly did you disagree with in my changes? --Peter Talk 01:38, 28 September 2009 (EDT)
I'm broadly with Peter on this, although I'm starting to lean towards junking this policy entirely. The point of the bodies of water policy is not to prevent bodies of water for its own sake, it's to prevent the creation of unnecessary articles — and for every other type of potential article this is accomplished just fine by What is an article?. Why do bodies of water need their own policy in the first place? Is there really sure a rash of people trying to create Atlantic Ocean or Puddle In Front of My House? Jpatokal 01:39, 28 September 2009 (EDT)
If the "place to sleep there" doesn't happen to be a place for which we already have an article, I don't have a problem with the body of water being its own article (i.e. Lake Louise). But when there is a lake with two or three articles for towns on its banks, where is the added value of having anything more than a disambiguation page to group them. What other information would go on the lake page that couldn't be covered elsewhere? Texugo 01:46, 28 September 2009 (EDT)
Three options:
1. If the towns are small, they should be merged together into a single lake article.
2. If the towns are big but there's already a suitable external region article, they should go into that region and the lake should redirect to that region.
3. If the towns are big and there's no suitable existing region, they can be placed under a lake region article.
Jpatokal 02:17, 28 September 2009 (EDT)

Thanks for getting us to specific criteria. I'm not sure it's enough to prevent a proliferation of basically useless lake articles though. And it takes us from "few and rare" water articles to almost promoting them as default.

1. If the towns are small, they should be merged together into a single lake article.
How small? How many? How far apart? Is it OK if they are 50km apart? 100? in different pre-existing geographical regions? What if there is only one (such as Fritch for Lake Meredith).
Well then we don't need a bloody region article for a single town now do we? Jpatokal
2. If the towns are big but there's already a suitable external region article, they should go into that region and the lake should redirect to that region.
Wouldn't a disambiguation be more useful by at least showing you all the articles along those shores?
Depends on the case. Jpatokal 12:31, 28 September 2009 (EDT)
3. If the towns are big and there's no suitable existing region, they can be placed under a lake region article.
This is the one I'm afraid will lead to lots of extra unnecessary region articles.
That would only happen if we start creating any additional regions for bodies of water, which is not the case. Ideally — and this goes for every region on Wikitravel, not just bodies of water — any split would involving taking a map of the containing element and dividing it into suitable chunks so the whole thing is covered. Jpatokal 12:31, 28 September 2009 (EDT)
Like Lake Bolsena currently under vfd discussion-- It's in a suitable existing region, Viterbo. I don't think it logical to combine Montefiascone, Latera, Bolsena, and the other villages into a single city-type article. Peter is saying we should go ahead and let Lake Bolsena be a region article, but I really don't think Viterbo deserves further regionification at this point because it is itself already a mostly empty article. So do we create another region anyway? Is it unique from other parts of Viterbo in any way other than simply having a lake there? If it does need it, do we need to discuss how Viterbo should be broken up to ensure no overlap? Or do we not care about that anymore, as Peter suggests?

Beyond all that, how do we decide what template to use? park? city? region? travel topic? What about rivers? You can certainly sleep along them? Do we start allowing those to proliferate or if not, on what basis? Texugo 03:35, 28 September 2009 (EDT)

You, sir, are being ridiculous -- and you're not answering my original question: what makes bodies of water any different? Do we need a "Parks and greenery policy" (hey, you can sleep in them), a "Deserts and sandboxes policy" (ditto) and a "Patches of dirt policy" as well? The answer is obvious: no, we don't, because we can use common sense on all of these, as well as bodies of water. Jpatokal 12:31, 28 September 2009 (EDT)
Of course Texugo is being ridiculous, but to show a point.
I am also coming to the opinion, that whatever the outcome of the discussion, we need a policy which covers all articles, and that having a separate policy for Bodies of Water is the wrong course of action.
However, there is a problem particular to bodies of water, so to answer Jani's question as to what makes them different. They tend to create peculiar regions, centered around what is often an attraction or logistical feature, rather than a coherent region. Towns along or around a body of water may make up the region, but the towns a few kilometres back from it make be excluded, so we have to be careful when turning bodies of water into regions.
Our can you sleep there mantra, now translated into is it possible to sleep there, no longer gives us much insight into what is an article.
There are two things that we really aiming to avoid. We want to avoid have attractions or transportation features as destination guides, and we want to avoid an unnecessarily large and overlapping set of regions that are devoid of information. The world can be divided an infinite amount of ways, and we will only ever have a finite set of resources to maintain regional information.
I think we can cover this with two simple rules.
  1. We do not create separate articles for things that would naturally fit within the sections of a destination guide, under the See, Do, Eat, Drink, Sleep or logistical sections. We create disambiguation pages or redirection pages to point to the appropriate destination guide which contains information on the attraction or logistical feature.
  2. We do not create regional articles outside of the geographical hierarchy unless there is some significant traveller information that would not naturally fit within either a destination guide or the region within the regional hierarchy. We usually create disambiguation or redirection pages to point to the appropriate regional or destination guides.
So, if a land region is named after a lake, and that forms part of our regional hierarchy, then it is always okay. If it doesn't, we would normally make it a disambiguation page, unless there is significant traveller information that could only fit into that region.
Of course, if we want to group a set of towns into a single article, and that is named after a body of water, then that would remain a reasonable thing to do, and that also fits within the regional hierarchy.
Are we getting any closer? --inas 19:49, 28 September 2009 (EDT)
I wasn't trying to be ridiculous at all, but I didn't answer your question. Bodies of water are different because:
  1. They rarely contain anything, they just border things. Sometimes the things they border are quite distant from one another.
  2. They very often form the boundary between other subregions, regions, states, countries, etc.,
  3. They are an attraction, and are otherwise covered as such in the See or Get out sections of nearby articles.
  4. There is usually little to say about the body of water itself because it's, well, water.
That said, I don't think we can have a policy that doesn't somehow single out bodies of water for being treated a little different. Maybe we need the bodies of water policy page or maybe we can just fit it in a section of the wiaa page. Anyway, I do think we may be moving forward albeit slowly, so I'd like to do a take on where Inas was going with this.
1. If there is no lodging >> Get out section of nearest town(s)
2. If there is a cluster of villages, none of which would constitute a standalone article, they can be grouped under the lake name using a city template.
3. If there is one article-worthy town, the lake title should redirect to that town. Information for nearby non-article-worthy villages should be included in that article.
4. If there is more than one article-worthy town, the lake title should be a disambiguation page pointing to those towns.
5. If the parent region merits further region-ification, and is broken down in such a way as to have complete coverage without overlap, a land region may take the name of the lake, provided its land borders are clearly defined.
6. Exceptions should be few, and consensus should be reached for them.
Texugo 23:13, 28 September 2009 (EDT)
I'm fully in agreement with Ian's rule 1, but I think the opinions being offered on regioning are misguided. What follows belongs more at Wikitravel talk:Geographical hierarchy, which is further indication that the issues we are hashing out are not particular to bodies of water, and further indication in my view that we are not served well by a policy that prejudicially treats them differently from any other geographical object.
In particular, it seems that Texugo would like to see us apply the "no gaps, no overlap" rule that we have been using in the past year or so for city districts breakdowns to region breakdowns. I don't think that's a good idea, as subregion articles are not analogous to district articles for two reasons: 1) Regions contain further articles within them (city articles), while district articles (like big/small city articles) are at the absolute bottom of the hierarchy. 2) Regions exist to index the articles below and to provide general information about them, while district articles contain only specific information, i.e., listings. Gaps at any particular level of the regions hierarchy is ok because of #1, overlap is ok because of #2.
Gaps are ok when subdividing regions, the only caveat being that all cities must be listed somewhere within the geographical hierarchy. The gap we want to avoid is gap in coverage of the world—that happens if there are gaps in a districts breakdown, but not if there are gaps left at one particular level of the regions hierarchy. Central Maryland's subdivision is "incomplete": at the next level below in the hierarchy, there is only one region created (Baltimore County), and the rest of a potential subdivision has not been discussed. But there is no gap left in coverage, since the destinations outside of that county are still accessible via the Central Maryland article. Were the subregion article named "Lake X" for a lake surrounded by cities somewhere in Central Maryland, it would be no different—all cities would remain covered by some region article.
Overlap can sometimes be ok between regions. There are two relevant types of overlap: 1) where regions at the same level of the hierarchy overlap, and 2) where a subregion sprawls across parent regions. Within the geographical hierarchy (the sole purpose of which is navigational), we don't allow overlap of the first kind, since it would become unclear. The second kind frustrates our breadcrumb trail (e.g., Vladivostok is not in Europe), but is unavoidable, unless we want to start really forcing our regional structure (e.g., by altering the boundaries of Asia & Europe or getting rid of those and inventing new continents, or perhaps chopping Russia into halves). Extra-hierarchical regions are not part of that navigation tree, so it's ok for them to "overlap" other regions, since this won't hinder navigation, and we will not direct breadcrumb trails their way (although overlap might be the wrong word, since they are outside the hierarchy). When should we create extra-hierarchical region articles? That's an interesting question, but probably best discussed in a different conversation, since this one is already so unwieldy.
In response to Texugo's numbered points: 1) I believe see or do would be a more appropriate spot for information on nearby attractions where one cannot stay (e.g., BNWR outside Cambridge). 5) I've tried to address this point above. 6) Are you suggesting that we mandate a discussion before creating any article named after a body of water? If so, I disagree, and consider that pointlessly discriminatory. We also don't want people creating articles for islands that don't meet the wiaa criteria, but I don't think we should need to confer every time someone wants to create an article named after an island. --Peter Talk 00:52, 29 September 2009 (EDT)

I am very much trying to prevent the proliferation of more region articles with little content-- we already have way way too many of those. I'm not saying we mandate discussion before any new body of water. What I'm really trying to come to is some solid patrollable criteria for when we need

a) a redirect,
b) a disambiguation,
c) a city-model lake article,
d) a sub-hierarchical region-model lake article (bottom of the hierarchy, leaving gaps),
e) a hierarchical region-model lake article (defined land borders with other same-level regions),
f) an extra-hierarchical region-model lake article.

I feel like our criteria should be weighted heavily toward the beginning (a and b) of that list because in most cases the info we get fits in the city articles anyway (yes, maybe See or Do is a better place, depending on the distance), leaving little that would fit in the lake article and nowhere else. My numbered points above (previous post) were a first attempt to arrive at real criteria. What criteria do you suggest? By the way, I am extremely surprised that you would prefer to lump a city of 15500 along with a couple of villages under a lake article than to create an article for the city and cover it all there. That is what to me represents a reversal of preference for city articles to body of water articles.Texugo 03:29, 29 September 2009 (EDT)

Are you talking about Bracciano/Lake Bracciano? This to me seems like another good example of why this policy serves to confuse rather than to guide, since the question is not one of city articles vs body of water articles, but rather one of how we name destination articles: if we're treating it as one destination regardless, we should choose the most commonly used name. That is, what would someone going there call it? "I'm going to spend a couple of days in Bracciano" or "I'm going to spend a couple of days at Lake Bracciano"?
With regards to patrollable criteria, I think that we need to be aware of the risk of bending our policies to serve the needs of patrollers, rather than travelers. In some cases, whether to use a single city article or a region article template for a lake destination simply won't be clear. I'm still making up my mind as to how I think we should best treat Lake George. Before doing my homework, I thought Deep Creek Lake would be a region page, but it turns out to work far better with a city template. These sorts of judgment calls require local information or research, and I think we're fortunate that we can rely on the collective wisdom of our 50,000 international users in making them.
In any rate, I did try to give some basic guidelines on what template to choose in my rewrite linked above. When to redirect an article is governed at Wikitravel:What is an article? & Wikitravel:Deletion policy#Deleting vs. redirecting—although these should be disambiguated when choosing a redirect target is not possible, as discussed at Wikitravel talk:Bodies of water#Change of policy on bodies of water.. --Peter Talk 06:31, 29 September 2009 (EDT)

So, in this context, what about the South Funen Archipelago? the name might sound OK to English speaker but as a Dane I think if it under the Danish term, Øhavet (The Island Sea), and if the first term wasn't already an official name per the Danish Tourist Organisation, that latter would be the name I had chosen for it. Is this OK, because the sea has islands in it, or what's the deal here? If it's only the name, and not the geographical area, which makes the difference, something is wrong with the policy in my book--Stefan (sertmann) Talk 07:58, 29 September 2009 (EDT)

Archipelagos are not bodies of water, but sets of islands, and usually regions (Yaeyama Islands) or destinations (Mishima Islands). Jpatokal 11:32, 29 September 2009 (EDT)
I agree that the sentiment that we create policies for travellers and not patrollers sounds good. it is nice to think that we have 50,000 contributors around the world, and each article will benefit from local knowledge. However, I think there is a stronger case to be made that a good meta-structure, geographical hierarchy and clear policy actually offers a travellers and contributors more value - and makes them more likely to contribute. Very few of the 50,000 take the significant additional step to define boundaries, determine what an article is, and debate the best policy - they are happy to go with something that makes sense. If we have regions that overlap, have gaps, and are poorly defined it significantly increases the work of the average contributor. They can't just find their article quickly, and add the information, which is what 99% of people want to do.
If the aim is to avoid dividing the world an infinite number of ways, and to avoid a region set that is complex, inconsistent, and has limited relevance to travellers, I just don't think we are going to get there relying purely on combining the local knowledge of the 50,000.
I also think the common name philosophy can be misused. A person staying in town may often say they are going to an attraction nearby. A person staying in Taupo make say they are going to Lake Taupo, in the same way that a person staying in a town may say they are going to a park, theme park, or attraction nearby. It is still an nearby attraction, and we should still be naming the article after the city. --inas 22:33, 29 September 2009 (EDT)
Again, I agree with Inas. There is a commonly used name for the city and a commonly used name for its biggest attraction. If it were a city of that size next to a famous set of ski slopes, would you propose using the name of the skiing grounds for the article name just because that's the most common purpose for visiting? Why is a lake any different? Texugo 03:09, 30 September 2009 (EDT)
One rather obvious reason for the difference would be that the article in question is not just about the one largest city on the lake, but also the smaller villages there. So not only is Lake Bracciano the most common name for the destination, it is the most accurate title for the article. And yes, we do have articles for ski slopes, and attractions or hotels just outside the resort, at say a small hamlet, belong in the ski slope article. --Peter Talk 03:55, 30 September 2009 (EDT)
And re: the "admin comes first" idea—yes, sometimes we need to adopt policies for convenience of editing. To thwart tour agency touts, we've wound up removing information about tours that really would be nice to have. But we just don't have this sort of problem with bodies of water. There are no "uninhabited lake touts," and there just aren't hordes of such articles being created for which we need a separate policy. If anything, I think this policy article, and the misinterpretation thereof, has led to an unwarranted waste of patrollers' time: vfds of perfectly valid articles simply because the word "lake" was in the article title, and additionally this very long discussion... --Peter Talk 04:44, 30 September 2009 (EDT)
That wasn't quite what I was saying, although I do like the idea of a lake tout. This isn't about convenience of editing. This is about people who are interested in this aspect of wikitravel putting in extra effort to make consistent regions and policies surrounding regions to benefit future contributors. --inas 06:15, 30 September 2009 (EDT)

I think we have fundamentally differing readings of wiaa resulting from fundamentally different definitions of the words "destination" and "attraction". From wiaa:

"A common test to determine whether a subject gets its own article is the "can you sleep there?" test. While there are numerous hotels and other lodging options in a city like London, you can't sleep in a museum or park within that city; such parks and museums should thus be listed as attractions within an article about the city."

From this, I infer logically that since I can't sleep in a museum or park within that city, and I obviously can't sleep in a lake next to the city (without a houseboat at least), all of those things should be listed as attractions within an article about the city, not considered as actual destinations. Keeping that in mind, I see next from wiaa:

"If an attraction is really famous and travellers may not know the city or region it is in, then create an article with the attraction name as title, but make it a redirect to the city or region and put the description in the city or region article."

From this, I can argue that Lake Bracciano should be a redirect to Bracciano. The fact that some information for a couple of tiny outlying villages gets included here is no different from a thousand other city articles which don't happen to have a lake next to them, hence should have no bearing on the title of the article.

Peter states that this policy article is somehow misrepresentative but it has seemed pretty clear and simple to me. My understanding of the policy up to this point has been basically "cover it in a city article if at all possible", and I see it as possible in 99% of cases. Redirects and disambigs still get the reader directly to the information they seek, so I don't think it is deleterious to the user. Plus, even if we have to merge and redirect sometimes, it is a lot easier to police than just letting articles crop up in a variety of article formats in the vague hope that a local will come along, tell us which type of article is most logical, and use their local expertise to make it into a decent article someday. I think in the end the bigger waste of time would be to leave the policy open ended. And I don't think this discussion is a waste of time at all; I think we need to have it. Texugo 00:44, 1 October 2009 (EDT)

Just brainstorming now, one possible solution I might be convinced of is the need for a new kind of article template, basically an extra-hierarchical extended disambiguation page. It could be used for extrahierarchical regions like Maremma, bodies of water (extra-hierarchical or not), mountain chains (like Andes), deserts (like Atacama Desert), etc. It could basically consist of an Understand section, with general information which applies only to the region in question and aRegions/Cities/Other destinations section of one-liner descriptions, (similar to what we have in the current stub article for Lake Ontario but in bulleted form). The one-liner descriptions could be used to point out things relating to the region/lake at hand, such as which cities provide the best access to the given region/lake (airports etc.), or which have the most to see, to highlight an attraction located there, or give other significant facts relating to the region at hand. Every other type of info would go through the normal channels, into destination articles. In cases for which it doesn't stretch across multiple hierarchical regions, it could later be promoted to a standard region template, once the utility of it has been established (i.e. when there is a substantial amount of information that can't be logically put anywhere else).
It's just a thought so far, but I think we might have a need for such a template.Texugo 01:28, 1 October 2009 (EDT)
Please count my support for this proposal! --DenisYurkin 03:59, 1 October 2009 (EDT)
I agree. What makes bodies of water different from other attractions is that they are often larger than a single destination. Really, information on bodies of water belongs in several different places: transport options go in "Get In" and "Get Out" for destinations along the body of water; recreational activities go in adjacent destinations' "Do" sections; lake scenery goes in "See" for the nearest destination. What the traveler needs is a way to say "I want to boat Lake Superior; what destinations can I use as my starting point, and what can I see along the way?" Texugo's proposal provides that information while keeping specifics where they belong, in the destination guides. LtPowers 09:50, 1 October 2009 (EDT)

To help evaluate where we currently are with body of water articles, I went through the first 7 pages of search results for "lake", ignoring any that are the actual name of a city, so as to get a pretty good random cross section of what's out there. I compiled the links and gave a brief and hopefully objective status summary of what I found here. I think it's a real hodge-podge of article types of varying completeness, most of them rather bare. Please have a look, and feel free to add to the list.

After doing this survey, I am pretty close to formally proposing the extended disambiguation article template idea mentioned above. Texugo 13:16, 1 October 2009 (EDT)

Your previous references to the what is an article criteria make sense to me. I look forward to the proposal. --inas 19:13, 1 October 2009 (EDT)
I won't be able to comment well until you get into specifics, but I think I'm leery of the idea. If a body of water would not make for a good travel article (Lake Ontario is an obvious example—it's not a useful travel region, and we should leave its description to Wikipedia), then we shouldn't be writing about it at all. Our current policy based on the last discussion recommended we do simple disambiguations for them as we did for the North Sea, and I think that's appropriate. Shortening valid travel articles like Lake Baikal would be pointless—why rule out descriptions of the places where you can find sit down restaurants, popular islands to camp on, what type of fish to look for, what sort of souvenirs are common and in which city articles to look for them?
And I must demur on this city-centric philosophy. If anything, our guides are overly urban-focused, which screws up our ability to cover large, spread apart, rural areas well—or much of the poor world, where the run down towns are absolutely not the important attractions. Instead, we often wind up with tons of pointless articles about tiny shit towns of nigh-on-zero travel importance, while questioning the value of articles on Lake Como! This baffles common sense, and strikes me as an ideology born of patrolling burnout. I think this reading of Wikitravel:What is an article? clearly contradicts the basic point of the policy—that we work on travel content, not encyclopedic content—and rather clearly contradicts the verdicts of many vfds in the past. --Peter Talk 00:00, 2 October 2009 (EDT)
Just a short response, since I'm working on the proposal. Lake Baikal is a national park and should be cast that way. There is no need for both Lake Como and Como (Province) as the lake dominates the whole province. All of Italy is already divided into provinces, so the lake should redirect to the province, not vice versa. And please, re: my proposal, think of it not as encouraging encyclopedic content (which it doesnt), but rather as a way to standardize any articles we have which fall outside of the geographic hierarchy, whether they fall below it or across it, and gives us a way to add valid travel content on topics for which we don't currently allow an article. You recognize the validity of the extra info in Chesapeake Bay but insist that Lake Ontario has none? Texugo 00:39, 2 October 2009 (EDT)
Lake Baikal is not a national park, which is why it gets a region article template. Lake Como and the Chesapeake Bay are huge, important travel destinations, and people plan their vacations specifically to them—they answer the question "where are you going for your vacation" — "the Bay" or "Lake Como" — and the traveler is not just referring a beach—they have the region in mind. The Chesapeake in particular operates no differently from a land region, except for the fact that vacationers are more likely to wander around the islands and port towns by boat than by car. The idea that such an important travel destination should redirect to a bureaucratic administrative division underscores what seems to me madness. Lake Ontario is more like the Atlantic—it's huge, and cannot reasonably be considered a single travel region. And I don't think breaking it up into chunks of water would make any sense. I think you're moving in the wrong direction two ways, and I think a Chesapeake or Como article would easily pass a vfd nom, while an Lake Ontario would not. --Peter Talk 00:57, 2 October 2009 (EDT)
Peter, I've read back through your comments, and I don't get what you are saying. I'm sure everybody's aim is to get the travel information into the guide, but thousands of vacuous arbitrary regional articles don't get us any closer to that aim that the ten thousand tiny articles with no significant travel content.
You seem to be arguing in favour of an anarchist idealistic model, where if we just let people write about travel features in whatever regions and structure make most sense to them at the time, a local expert will arrive and sort things out for each region. I just don't believe that is going to happen. I'm not arguing in favor of any particular structure, but some good structure and policy will hopefully help us get to better travel guides.
Noone is suggesting for one moment that we shouldn't have information on Lake Como in the guide - any less than they are saying we shouldn't have information on the Sydney Harbour Bridge or Niagara Falls in the guide. But we want to avoid having the information duplicated. We want to make it easy and consistent to navigate to. We are aiming for a consistent organisational structure that makes travel information easy to include, and easy to find. Whether we have Lake Como as it own article, or whether it points to the same information in the Como Region, or whether we focus more on travel to make Lake Como the region name. At the moment, it could be any of these things, or more, depending on the inclination of the various editors. --inas 00:55, 2 October 2009 (EDT)
You are seriously comparing Lake Como to the Sydney Harbor Bridge? --Peter Talk 01:07, 2 October 2009 (EDT)
No, did I draw that comparison somewhere? You can't trivialise my point, by a one liner suggesting I'm making a ridiculous comparison I'm not. My point is clearly that everybody is focussed on including quality travel information, not encyclopaedic stuff, and that good structure is certainly not an anathema to that.
There is a real incentive here for us everyone to come to a new consensus. The alternative is we are stuck with the status-quo of a couple of policy documents that we are struggling to reach even very basic agreement over what they currently mean. --inas 01:14, 2 October 2009 (EDT)

While I'd much rather argue concepts, organization and structure than specific examples...

  • Lake Baikal - I beg to differ. Zabaikalski National Park basically surrounds the whole lake. Look at this map: [4]
  • Lake Como/Como (Province) - Do you think a) both articles are actually necessary?, or b) the province title should redirect to the lake, despite the fact that every other province in Italy has its own article and despite the fact that the province has defined boundaries while the lake region doesn't?

I have more to say but have to run to work unfortunately. Texugo 03:36, 2 October 2009 (EDT)

On the contrary, Zabaikalski is only the portion of that map outlined in green—it's just a section of the western coast (and за = in back of). Lake Como definitely should not be redirected to Como (Province), because a good third of the lake is in Lecco_(Province). And to beat a dead horse, the traveler's destination is Lake Como, not the Province of Como (and one of our defining principles on this site is that our policies should serve travelers, not writers). The NYTimes writes about vacationing in Lake Como [5], not Como (Province). We use the provinces in Italy for navigation. That should not stop us from writing good travel articles about blatantly obvious travel destinations, and redirecting, disambiguating famous destinations to admin divisions that we use out of convenience is not a good structure for a travel guide.
I think we sometimes lose track of ourselves in abstract discussion, so these examples are a good way to bring the points I'm trying to make into focus:
1) The geographical hierarchy exists to help people navigate the site;
2) Using a region template does not make an article part of the geographical hierarchy;
3) Extra-hierarchical regions do not muddy the geographical hierarchy because they are extra-hierarchical (not part of the hierarchy);
4) That we choose regions of navigational convenience for the hierarchy is the main reason why we have tons of undeveloped region articles (that and the fact that we have not until the past several months had good examples of developed region articles); extra-hierarchical regions only get created when there is a compelling reason to do so—thus they tend to actually attract good content;
5) It is not desirable to confine all WT articles to the city template, nor to force major destinations that are not cities/towns into articles for cities/towns that are considerably less important, well known, or interesting;
6) We should not give up on writing good region articles simply because we have a lot of useless ones, especially right when we are finally starting to get our act together with really good model region articles. (And again, we have a lot of useless ones because we are writing articles for provinces and counties, which are regions of navigational conveninece—not real travel destinations.)
One thing we could do that I think might reduce the perceived confusion of having extra-hierarchical regions is, in addition to our existing practice of excluding them from breadcrumb navigation, to always remember to list them as other destinations (the notion that all articles should be forced into city articles should be belied by the fact that we have this section on every region article), rather than regions. --Peter Talk 04:05, 2 October 2009 (EDT)

Can I remove the vfds from the three Italian lakes in question? The 14 days are long gone and I don't think it creates a good impression for the casual reader.Shep 08:39, 18 October 2009 (EDT)

I agree with most that has been said here, articles like Andes, Alps or North Sea are generally useless as they are too vast in size to say anything meaningful and they overlap with the existing hierarchy. Usually they turn into a list of destinations anyway, so I think it's better to just make them into disambiguation pages (as done with Mediterranean Sea). Lake Tahoe is an exception because it is not about Lake Tahoe, but the region around it is named after the lake. So lakes can be a region name, but I think it's best to avoid any writing about lakes or mountain ranges. Better disambiguate. --globe-trotter 15:58, 1 February 2010 (EST)
I think you must have comprehensive diplomatic skills to agree with most of what has been said here, since there is so much in dispute. Much of the discussion above would not turn the Andes into a disamb, and the justification that they it is too vast, would apply to any large region, extra-hierarchical or not. Sometimes extra-hierarchical regions have more cohesion than a continental region.
There still seems to be an agreement seems to be that we don't want articles about minor attractions or geographical features (except when they are used to name a real land region).
However, I think there is still fairly fundamental disagreement over the threshold required to create an extra-hierarchical article, especially when the region is based on a nearby attraction, such as a lake or such, and if we do create such articles, what they should look like.
Some people still believe that this article constitutes policy specifically relating to bodies of water, and others think that all the rules are already covered in [wiaa]]. --inas 17:20, 1 February 2010 (EST)

Proposal for a Meta-region article template[edit]

A proposal precipitating from the above discussion has been made here since it has implications for more than just bodies of water. Please read and comment. Thanks. Texugo 00:43, 2 October 2009 (EDT)

As the unwitting originator of this discussion I fully support the proposal, even if I am unclear what "meta" means. I've done another article which has yet to attract attention/criticism, that on Castelli Romani which I assume is a meta region. It is a recognisable area. People in Rome talk about going to the Castelli for the day. I felt uncomfortable squeezing it into the city template, a problem I also have for small island destinations. How about

Area name is in Region name.

Get in

Get around

Major places and sights






Greetings to all. Shep 14:51, 13 October 2009 (EDT)