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Wikitravel talk:Country guide status

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The outline wording as it stands isn't accurate where a country article is defined as an outline because the articles linked to it aren't usable. -- Beardo 00:32, 9 May 2006 (EDT)

Subarticle status??[edit]

This article seems to be missing the rule that others have where in order for an article to become "guide" all sub-articles should be "usable", and to become "star" sub-articles should be "guide". Is this intentional? Obviously it will be a lot more difficult then to make a country a star than for a city, but perhaps it should be that way. On one hand I would almost say that the country would be the last in the chain to become a star, once the country is fully covered - but on the other hand i would disagree with myself. We have great articles like Finland that just became a star, but only one of its region articles is a guide, one usable and the rest outlines. Should a country article be considered a star because it's complete and comprehensive, or because the coverage of the country in most/all subarticles is also comprehensive? What say? ::: Cacahuate 12:15, 21 January 2007 (EST)

OMG, why didn't someone just point out sooner that I was retarded and blind rather than just not responding? It's already written in there, good news! Except for Finland, which doesn't meet that requirement - Cacahuate 21:01, 19 February 2007 (EST)

I think that the Country article status needs to be polished. Here's what I propose -
  • MoS
  • The phrasebook(s) of the language(s) spoken in the country should be complete.
  • The regions should be usable and at least half the linked cities should be guide and the others usable (saying that all region and city articles should be guide is setting the bar too high)
  • There should be a good map of the country with all linked destinations
  • The factbox must be complete
  • There must be a minimum of 3 good photos

Upamanyuwikitravel 08:12, 4 March 2007 (EST) P.S. Cacahuate, what does OMG mean?

Oh my God! — Ravikiran 08:15, 4 March 2007 (EST)
I'll concede that the current standards for a country's region/city articles may be too high. The intent was to make sure that we didn't spotlight a great-looking country article that turned out to be inadequate in actual use, because when you drilled down to the city level there weren't listings for places to eat and sleep, or the only city adequately covered was the capital. The phrasebook requirement is a good idea; I'd suggest "usable" as the standard rather than demanding completeness. I agree with the quickbar/factbox requirement. - Todd VerBeek 09:39, 4 March 2007 (EST)
Ya, what I mean by complete phrasebook is a phrasebbook with enough info for a traveller to speak some basic phrases and make himself understood, in other words - usable status+ — Upamanyuwiki(Talk)• 10:05, 4 March 2007 (EST)

I don't really think they're too high Todd... I think it totally makes sense that a Guide country article has usable or better subarticles, and a Star country article has guide or better subarticles... otherwise we're just rushing to put star labels on countries that aren't even that well covered. Especially considering that it stipulates that this is for articles linked to from the country page, which would only be 9 cities, and maybe 9 "other destinations" for some countries... I don't think that's unreasonable. And it makes just as much sense for the "regions" to be only one step behind the country status as well, otherwise it's just isn't usable I think overall... I think we should just keep taking the upper statuses slowly and help them retain their value, so to speak... - Cacahuate 03:23, 7 March 2007 (EST)

The standards required for sub-articles directly linked from the country page should be strict. 1 usable country with 20 usable city articles behind it is worth a lot more than 1 star country with 20 outlines behind it. There simply is no rush to make star articles. Having said that, I'll even support the requirement for complete phrasebooks, thereby putting South Africa (my origional star nomination) with it's 11 languages right at the back of the queue for becoming a star. --NJR_ZA 03:56, 7 March 2007 (EST)

Me too, regarding the phrasebook, that's a good suggestion Upamanyu... I think it should follow the standard - phrasebook should be usable status or higher if the country's a guide, and guide status or higher if country's a star - Cacahuate 04:18, 7 March 2007 (EST)
Ooh, and shall we stipulate that this requirement is for the country's official languages phrasebooks, so as not to get tooo crazy? For instance, India has a zillion languages, but I would personally apply this only to the Hindi phrasebook, since it's the "official" language - Cacahuate 04:22, 7 March 2007 (EST)

Usable status too strict?[edit]

Currently, Canada is listed as a guide article, but according to this standard, it should be an outline! Why? Because guide status -- and useable status, for that matter -- requires all linked regions, cities, and other destinations to be at usable status, and Ontario is only an outline. Why? Because its Golden Horseshoe subregion is only an outline. Should Canada really be demoted to outline because Golden Horseshoe isn't yet to usable status? LtPowers 20:31, 3 May 2009 (EDT)

Hmmm, I think it's OK to require guide level countries to have all sub linked pages to be at least usable, the status here should not indicate the quality of the article itself, but the overall level of the country in question - at least in my book. But that Canada can't be usable does seems a bit silly. --Stefan (sertmann) Talk 20:50, 3 May 2009 (EDT)

I'd be ok with changing the "usable" requirement to all linked destinations at a minimum of "outline." (I think I've already been operating on that criterion by mistake.) We could do that for region guide status as well.
I've now changed it. If there is disagreement, revert and discuss. --Peter Talk 22:40, 3 May 2009 (EDT)
Ah, I see I already did this for region guide status [1]. --Peter Talk 22:44, 3 May 2009 (EDT)
I strongly disagree with making any change to this policy that makes it easier to promote articles.... we've demoted many a guide article and even de-starred country articles on these grounds, it's a very established guideline. A country builds up slowly, and is made up of much more than the overview article... the coverage below it is paramount. In my opinion, Guide articles are those that are comparable to any other printed guide out there such as LP... while our Canada article(s) are coming along nicely, I don't think we're competing quite yet. There's no rush to get it to guide status, and if there is, then well, write a good article for Golden Horseshoe :) – cacahuate talk 01:34, 4 May 2009 (EDT)
Cacahuate, I think you might have misunderstood. First, I changed the "usable" requirements for region guides a while back, because otherwise there would be an extraordinary chain of outline regions. One single county article at outline status, for example, would render the USA an outline—it would be impossible to ever get the country guide above outline status. So the Golden Horseshoe article is actually irrelevant to the Canada article, unless we were to change the region guide requirements for usable status.
Second, we're talking about usable status, and only usable status. I don't think a guide truly needs well developed region articles to be usable by a traveler—all that's really needed are usable city and other destination articles, plus outline region articles for navigation. Certainly that should satisfy the article status requirement (An adventurous person could use the article without recourse to other information sources. For most articles, this means they could probably get to the destination, eat, and sleep with just this information. It would probably enable them to find at least the most prominent attraction there). Guide status, on the other hand, denotes a really robust travel guide to a country, which should absolutely entail region articles with well developed general prose + a further level of city, region, and other destination guides. I'm not proposing that we change our guide-status requirements at all.
Lastly, I've already introduced a nuance here—linked city and other destination articles need to be usable to consider the country article (or a region article for that matter) actually usable. Perhaps it would be a good idea to change the criteria for both the country and region-level guides to reflect this (e.g., "all linked city and other destination guides must be usable status; all linked region guides must be at least outlines.") --Peter Talk 04:55, 4 May 2009 (EDT)
Perhaps I've misunderstood the intent of the requirements for usable status. It sez: "Has links to at least a couple cities and/or region guides (usable status or better),". My reading of that is that all linked destinations should be usable status or better, but it could be read that at least a couple of linked destinations should be usable status or better. Which is it supposed to be? LtPowers 08:02, 4 May 2009 (EDT)
The practical interpretation has been that all linked destinations (meaning, all linked articles in the cities, regions, and other destinations lists at the top of the article) must be of at least usable status. The "at least a couple" phrase is supposed to mean that there cannot only be one linked city article. Does that clear things up? --Peter Talk 08:10, 4 May 2009 (EDT)
Yes, but that seems counterproductive to me. A country with an incomplete regionalization scheme can be at usable status as long as all of the regions that do exist are usable, but if someone completes the regionalization with even just one new region that's only an outline, we have to demote the country to outline? We don't want to discourage development, and I think it's hard to argue that the latter is a worse article than the former. LtPowers 08:52, 4 May 2009 (EDT)
I'm going to side with Cacahuate and take a hard line here. The tags are meant to denote how usable the article is for travel, not reward contributors. If a country has an entire region that's just a contentless outline (and the region split is sensible and agreed on), then no, it's not usable as a whole. Jpatokal 09:13, 4 May 2009 (EDT)
Why would a contentless outline subregion make the parent unusable? If usable = [A traveler] could probably get to the destination, eat, and sleep with just this information. It would probably enable them to find at least the most prominent attraction there. It seems fairly clear to me that a region article is usable provided its linked city & other destination articles are of usable status. In any rate, I suppose it's not the end of the world, provided this strict criteria is applied only at the country level. --Peter Talk 09:31, 4 May 2009 (EDT)
And Jani, in this case specifically, Ontario is hardly a contentless outline. Do you really think Canada, which is actually a pretty good article, should be listed as just an outline? LtPowers 12:56, 4 May 2009 (EDT)

I've just demoted the USA to outline, per this strict criteria. A very big problem with the criteria as written is that usablecountry and guidecountry status are effectively the same—the U.S. has two outline regions; when they are bumped to usable status, the U.S. will go directly from outline to guide status. There is no in between, and this criteria is looking less and less well thought out to me. --Peter Talk 18:18, 4 May 2009 (EDT)

I essential point here, is the one Peter raised above. A region doesn't need to be detailed to be usable. A region can be usable if just just directs to usable city level articles. Perhaps we just need to look at the requirements to make a region usable? --Inas 18:29, 4 May 2009 (EDT)
Put yourself in the traveler's shoes: you're going to region X and have no clue what to see or do there. Is the article really "usable" if it just has a list of cities? Jpatokal 00:16, 5 May 2009 (EDT)
All that's needed is to click on the nine maximum cities to find out, provided they are usable. Add one-liner descriptions to the cities list and then it should be even more clear. Besides, the country level article, to be usable, already needs to have the relevant sections filled out, telling the traveler what to see and do there. A I think we should differentiate between usable and guide country articles, but the current requirements barely do that.
Almost any country article I can think of would never be at usable status—they would all go straight from outline to guide. That seems to me like a straightforwardly broken article status system, and I don't think this was ever thought out very clearly. Examples should make this pretty clear—do you really consider the USA guide as it stands to be unusable? That it does not satisfy the basic usable status description quoted twice above? --Peter Talk 01:08, 5 May 2009 (EDT)
Imposing a restriction on both a guide and a usable country on subregions being usable has unintended consequences, as Peter shows. If we are going to have a hierarchy, then we need s standard method. All subs to be outline before outline, all subs to be usable before usable, all subs to be guide before guide, and it needs to apply to country, region, and city.
The current system on making a region becoming usable dependent on a city becoming an outline, is just as odd. A bot could make a city guide outline, and making a region's usability depending on having an outline with no information at all doesn't make sense, if you consider actual usability from a traveller's perspective.
I think we have two alternatives. Make the hierarchy consistent, and all lower articles meet a level before higher level get the status. This will mean that a guide country will be a nirvana, and even usable may be a fair way off. Or, we drop the hierarchy requirement, and judge each article on its own merits.
I'm inclined to favour the latter approach, and judge each article on its own merits. That way people looking through the categories can find an outline article they know something about, and set about improving it. With the hierarchical system, they could go to improve it, and it might be complete already, just awaiting some obscure knowledge about a little visited part of a region. I can see the advantages in the former though, and making all parts of a country be a guide before the country itself can be a guide adds impetus to gather information on those esoteric corners of the country that might otherwise be ignored. --Inas 01:48, 5 May 2009 (EDT)
I don't think those are the only two approaches. The current approach, where guide status requires sublevels in the hierarchy to be at least usable, is perfectly reasonable. The problem occurs because usable status has very similar requirements to guide status when it comes to linked articles. (Obviously the article itself should look very different for those two statuses.)
Inas, you raise a good point that an outline is hardly worth much at all. I would agree that requiring outline-status or better is too trivial to base a status upon. My preference, then, would be for usable status to require not all linked articles at usable status, but at least a couple linked articles at usable status.
As it stands now, a country article could be usable if it had only two or three regions, as long as each of those subregions was itself usable. Adding another region to fill out the regionalization of the country would drop the country article to outline until the new region was brought up to usable. That's counterproductive. Having an outline region is demonstrably better than no region at all. Changing it to require at least a couple of linked articles at usable status would alleviate that anomaly and provide a clear progression from usable to guide -- if you want it to be a guide, you have to get all of the region articles up to usable status. (And we should add an additional criterion to guide, that the country be fully regionalized without overlaps.)
-- LtPowers 08:13, 5 May 2009 (EDT)

I just did an audit of our country guides, and as I suspected, not a single one meets the current criteria. The only exceptions are Pitcairn Islands (guide) and Singapore (star), both of which don't have subregions. (Singapore should be de-starred per our criteria too, as it contains one usable district.) I don't think the current criteria makes sense, and the idea that our USA guide isn't good enough where An adventurous person could use the article without recourse to other information sources is to me laughable. I'll make a proposal for new criteria below, and hopefully those objecting will be willing to reconsider? --Peter Talk 09:12, 20 May 2009 (EDT)


  • Usable — Has links to the country's major cities and other destinations (usable status or better), a valid regional structure, and a Get in section describing all of the typical ways to get there. Information about the country's currency, language, cuisine and culture is included. At least the most prominent attraction is identified with directions.

Does this seem reasonable? --Peter Talk 09:16, 20 May 2009 (EDT)

It's an improvement. I'm not sure I like requiring all of the linked destinations to be usable or better, but certainly at least some of them should be. And making a destination article "usable" is a lot easier than getting a whole region to "usable", so it's probably okay. If it satisfies Jani and cachuate's objections, then I'm fine with it. LtPowers 16:45, 20 May 2009 (EDT)
Sorry, forgot about this conversation and just rediscovered it! I do admit in my initial haste I didn't realize we were just discussing usable status. I see the points being made, don't have much of a problem with Lt's and Peter's last suggestions. I don't have a whole lot of interest in the difference between outline and usable.... overall I do think that articles will spend the vast majority of their time at usable status, and think that the leap to guide is one that should be taken quite seriously. I think "guide" is what we're really striving for here, and then eventually, when and article exceeds all expectation and puts its competition to shame, should be nominated for star status. I think at a point we had let "guide" status lose its luster, and that's what I'm interested in continuing to restore :)
RE the initial exchange above, I was saying that Canada should be demoted to usable until all its regions were usable, but definitely not outline, same with USA, etc – cacahuate talk 00:51, 22 May 2009 (EDT)
I support Peter's proposed edit above, although the other country status ratings should probably be given similar grade mechanics. For example:
  • Guide — Has links to the country's major cities and other destinations (guide status or better), a valid regional structure with region-level maps, and a comprehensive Get in section covering visa information and the full range of transport options. Information about the country's currency, language, cuisine and culture is included, as are the country's most prominent attractions. The Respect section contains at least seven broad generalizations and causes for offense.
I haven't worked much on country articles, so please fine-tune that further. Gorilla Jones 01:20, 1 June 2009 (EDT)
Heh heh. I'd make the guide status more strict though—requiring all immediate subregions to be at usable status, and for all standard sections to have meaningful content. --Peter Talk 01:25, 1 June 2009 (EDT)
Agreed. GJ, Aretha's about to break out a can o whip ass on your respectless self. Oh, what about the talk we had a couple years ago in above section where we were leaning towards phrasebook being included in the mix of "must be's"? – cacahuate talk 02:23, 1 June 2009 (EDT)
Oh, I also propose moving " At least one good-quality photo accompanies the article; preferably 2-3 showing famous or important attractions" from the star requirement to the guide requirements... this is pretty basic. A star article would of course have multiple high quality photos and a detailed map noting at least every linked article – cacahuate talk 02:27, 1 June 2009 (EDT)
There were objections much earlier in this conversation, but it seems we're approaching something of a new consensus? Any objections before I give the status criteria an update as suggested above? --Peter Talk 02:08, 5 June 2009 (EDT)

Updating status templates[edit]

I have just seen that Germany was demoted to outline status from Peter as a result of this discussion. The general Germany article needs hardly any more information. I tried in the last weeks to reduce the nonsense in this article because instead of more information this article is overloaded. I understand the argument that the sub-articles need improvement but everyone who sees that status will add more in the general article instead of the sub-articles. Would it be an idea to add on the country pages, that actually the main article is ok but due to sub-standard regional articles it is not further upgraded? Because it is very tiresome to rewrite all that stuff user continiously add in the German stay safe and history part. And this doesn't help the sub-articles either. An other option maybe: Could be made a box for countries stating the article level of the subs so that users get the message that the regional articles are the issue and not more nonsense on the main country page? jan 06:07, 4 June 2009 (EDT)

That's not a bad idea. LtPowers 10:13, 4 June 2009 (EDT)
the countries that were at guide status should have been demoted to usable, not outline. I don't think the outline template needs changing, but we could do with changing usable and guide for the country templates to something that is more specific and helpful, this is a good point. Something likeThis country's coverage is considered usable. It has information about the country and for getting in, a few usable region articles, as well as links to several destinations. An adventurous person could use these articles, but please plunge forward and help them to grow!. I'm sure we can do even better than that, ideas? – cacahuate talk 17:01, 4 June 2009 (EDT)
It might actually be useful to have two different templates, one that says "this article needs more work," and one that says "this article is pretty good, but we've marked it 'usable' because its subregions (or cities or districts) need more work". LtPowers 22:29, 4 June 2009 (EDT)
A new category, for country articles that are guide quality, but whose subregions aren't. But a country can't be guide quality unless its subregions are, I thought? --inas 00:33, 5 June 2009 (EDT)
Mates, might we give this a test drive in the Germany article? I don't know how to create a box that could indicate the status of the main and the subs. Do we need to adapt the template? jan 04:49, 5 June 2009 (EDT)
That sounds complicated.... I really think all we need to do is fix the wording a bit to make is sound less like "add more info this page" and more like "help fix up the region articles too".
@ Inas, no, a country article can be at guide status if the country article is guide quality, and the linked articles are at least "usable". Essentially, an article can only be 1 step higher than its linked destinations – cacahuate talk 22:06, 5 June 2009 (EDT)