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Wikitravel talk:Country surgeon Expedition

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Highlights for a location / Decide where to go[edit]

Swept in from the pub:

I've been using Wikitravel now for quite some time to get info on the places i travel to, and every now and then i post some recommendations in terms of things to do, see, eat or sleep.

But now i'm trying to get some ideas for say a short week of vacation this summer. This is however rather tedious to do; this place has a lot of info about a lot of places, with good recommendations left and right. If i just open the pages of some countries that spark my interest for this short trip i'm up to my neck in stuff to read, let alone decide upon.

So what if i just want to get ideas what's cool to see and do in say a country or city? Maybe it's an idea to have a 'highlights' paragraph to turn to for just some info?

How do you guys decide on your next destination? Peymora 15:21, 18 June 2008 (EDT)

Well, a fully developed article will tell you the highlights in the See/Do sections, and in the introductory paragraph or "Understand" section; I'm not sure we need another section for highlights, we just need to improve more of our articles to do what they're already designed to do :)
As far as deciding where to go, first think about what your interests are, or what you're in the mood for at this moment. There's endless things to do and see, and if you're like me then you want to do them all. So stop paying attention to the whole, and follow something fun and random that sparks your interest. Do you feel like scuba diving for a week (or learning how to)? Want to sit on a beach, or hike in the mountains? Where are you coming from? Ever been to a Muslim country? How about Cairo, explore the city and the pyramids? – cacahuate talk 00:12, 19 June 2008 (EDT)

I agree with the fact that it should be in Do & See, however: a country page doesn't have these paragraphs! My Lonely Planet Croatia (i'm on an internship now here) start with some highlights troughout the country. No details, just: mountain here, old monestary there, beautiful city there. And with page-numbers so i can look them up.

If you could have a summary listing like that of the not-to-be-missed spots on a country-page with links to the appropriate cities etc that would really be helpful in finding cool places to go to. So, a --highlight-- paragraph? Peymora 04:08, 19 June 2008 (EDT)

Calendar of events and festivals can also be a good starting point, though it does not get the attention it deserves and should contain a lot more detail than it does --Nick 04:49, 19 June 2008 (EDT)
You're right, my mistake! Make that "cities" and "other destinations"... where we list up to 9 cities and 9 other destinations that are the highlights of that country... (and we link straight to those destinations, rather than using pesky page #'s :)). I know you may not see what you're looking for exactly on a lot of the country articles, but it's more because they aren't fully developed yet, rather than a problem with the article formats. California does a decent job so far of giving you highlights via the opening paragraph, and the cities and other destinations sections. I'd vote against a "highlights" section because you'd be duplicating info that should already be located in those 3 areas – cacahuate talk 19:30, 20 June 2008 (EDT)

Ah, then i get it, so it should be in 'cities' and 'other destinations'. Okay, maybe we should make that more explicit in the template for country articles? Right now the examples and description for cities are clear, but it says for 'other destinations' that it should only be the independent articles. Maybe include that direct links to interesting things to see/do in that country (wherever they are listed, city/region) are also requested (up to 9). Peymora 05:02, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

In highlighting some Greece destinations I changed the heading of Other Destinations to Major Destinations, as a way of answering exactly this question of what most people will want to see. In retrospect I realize that maybe it's against policy to change the heading, but no one has complained yet. I think Major Destinations is a much more informative heading, and I'd like to see it allowed or even have the template changed to it. After all, "other destinations" could be anything. More generally, I agree with the desire to mark major sights more clearly, even if there won't always be total agreement on what they are. Most travel guides do this, and most readers find it very useful. For instance, the first time traveler to Japan, confronted with the bewildering array of attractions in that country, will be very glad to have a list of top things to visit including maybe the three or four major temples in Kyoto and in Nara, the Hiroshima Peace Museum, Himeji Castle, performances at the Kabuki-za in Tokyo, the Great Buddha in Kamakura, Takayama and the Japanese Alps, and Nikko. The point isn't whether this is a perfect list of the best; it's that it's much better to have such a list, whatever its defects, than to not have any list and so miss some of these things because you didn't realize how important they were. Sailsetter 12:04, 14 July 2008 (EDT)

Country surgeon Expedition[edit]

Swept in from the pub:

Our "See sections" on country articles tend to be empty, despite being potentially the most useful section for giving people an idea of how to spend their time in the country. I think Iraq#See is a decent example of how useful this can be (and I wrote that with just a couple hours of research and nearly no prior knowledge). I've organized a list of countries that need see sections, or at least better developed see sections, which could serve as a checklist, in the same manner as we do at the Wikitravel:Regions map Expedition. We have been discussing this issue at Wikitravel:Collaboration of the month#Update Country See and Do Sections.

So in short, I'd like to start the Wikitravel:Country surgeon Expedition! --Peter Talk 18:15, 24 August 2011 (EDT)

Full support from me. Critical to the success of this venture will be clearly defined guidelines as to the presentation of the country See and Do sections. The Iraq see section is beautifully written, and as the attractions are all in similar theme (bar in the final short paragraph), it works as several blocks of prose with no headings. For countries with a larger variation of themes, I think sub sections make sense. I have started along that route at Indonesia for example (unfinished).--Burmesedays 00:24, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
Good project. Large countries like Indonesia will always require subsections in the See section as there is so much to see. --globe-trotter 15:51, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
I took a stab at re-writing New Zealand's See section. I wouldn't mind some feedback on length/content/etc. I find this kind of writing hard so I wanted to practice on a place I'm very familiar with before trying others. There's probably more scenery stuff to add, but I'm not sure if it will make it too long. -Shaund 01:33, 10 September 2011 (EDT)
Good idea, I did the Netherlands before and Suriname now. Perhaps I'll do a few others later. Why are some countries bold? Are they considered more important?
Also, did you talk about those guidelines for see and do yet? The Suriname article has a bunch of natural reserves under "do", but I included the main natural sights also in see. Frankly, I'm wondering if those descriptions under "do" aren't copies from elsewhere, considering the limited content of the rest of the Suriname article and the fact that highly similar text can be found on other websites. I guess there's no way to find out if they got if from us or if someone copied it here, right? Justme 07:12, 9 September 2011 (EDT)

See and Do[edit]

One of the challenges is dealing with the crossover between See and Do, and to a lesser extent Understand. For example, it is difficult not to repeat information from a Natural Attractions sub-section of See, in a Trekking sub-section of Do. The Culture sub-section of Understand likewise has crossover with Cultural Performances in Do. It's tricky. --burmesedays 09:35, 9 September 2011 (EDT)

Yes, when trying to write See in Europe, I quickly got to a kind of history section, so it's definitely not easy. The same goes with trekkings in Thailand, describing cultures in See, while those cultures would often be visited as part of a trekking (which would need to be in Do). I guess we just have to try and be creative for each country and get more experience in how to write these sections over time. --globe-trotter 11:25, 9 September 2011 (EDT)
National Parks are definitely a little tricky. I tend to think the major parks themselves should be mentioned in See, but any well known treks, rafting, etc. (activities) within should be in Do. --Peter Talk 03:29, 11 September 2011 (EDT)
Actually, when writing, I find that crossovers with the "cities" and "other destinations"-listings are just as much a problem. It depends heavily on the size of the country, the number and kind of attractions, of course. For at least some of them, like Latvia, the most prominent sights are towns and town centres that are mentioned in those listings, be it somewhat differently formulated and with different levels of detail. I don't really see any way around doubling info then, is there? I guess it's less of a problem to have the main attractions listed double. Justme 19:16, 14 September 2011 (EDT)
I don't think that overlap is a big problem. The OD list is mostly a list for navigation, while the See and Do sections are supposed to be prose, and can be a lot more detailed. --globe-trotter 19:25, 14 September 2011 (EDT)
I think it would be particularly tough to write both the OD list and See section in one sitting. But if the OD list is already written, you can just make a point not to look at it while writing something else more original ;)
Since we already have a good idea of what a See section should contain, the task may simply be to define what belongs in the Do section at the country level. Glancing at the USA article, there is music, sports, and festivals—all easy and useful things to discuss at the national level. The parks information as written in that section looks like it might have a better home in the See section (where the information is largely duplicated, and better written, already). --Peter Talk 22:30, 14 September 2011 (EDT)


I have started on a See section for Brazil, but it is not complete yet. Brazil is way bigger than the Netherlands, and I'm not sure how it would be possible to write a single succinct paragraph for each subsection, so I am doing bulleted points in each subsection for now. Let me know how you think it looks.

  • I added a Natural wonders section, which I definitely think should be one of the sub-sections. Possible other bulleted points (i.e. Peaks:Pão de Açucar, etc.)?
  • I know that beach listings usually go in the Do section, but I'm wondering, in the case of a country (where we are giving a more general overview), whether it might not be better to put them either in their own See section or under Natural wonders, leaving the Do section to give an overview of the activities themselves.
  • I think the "colonial architecture" blurb I recently added should be expanded to a Colonial heritage subsection to include some things not directly related to architecture, get into a little more detail about what things to look for and answer some common questions (e.g. "What is a pelourinho?).
  • The Oscar Niemeyer blurb I recently added can likely be expanded into a third section of Modern architecture or Modern cities, to talk about not only his works but give examples of other important structures/buildings as well.
  • Any other suggestions?

Looking forward to your comments. texugo 03:42, 10 September 2011 (EDT)

I don't think we have to keep it to a single paragraph per subsection. I noticed Burmesedays has two or three paragraphs in each subsection for Indonesia. I'm proposing to do it the same way in New Zealand. I think each of the bullet points (waterfalls, Pantanal, Atlantic Forest, etc.) could be turned into a paragraph and that would be fine.
That's a good question about the beaches and I was wondering the same thing. I'm leaning towards keeping them in Do, just for consistency with city articles (but very amenable to reasons to put them in See).
I'm struggling quite a bit with how much detail to include. My initial thought is details and answers to common questions would be good material for infoboxes or the Understand section, but I'm not sure. It's a good question. -Shaund 15:24, 10 September 2011 (EDT)
There is a discussion on beaches here. I think WT has got this one wrong and needs to make that distinction. That may be because the guideline was formulated by urban-leaning folks who are used to beaches being a playground rather than a natural attraction in their own right.--burmesedays 21:03, 10 September 2011 (EDT)
On bullet points, I think we should try to avoid them altogether. Rather, well organised, succinct prose should be the aim.--burmesedays 21:05, 10 September 2011 (EDT)
I'd avoid the bullets as well. Texugo's current work is very good prose on its own, and the bullets could be easily removed without needing to change the content. But the presence of bullet points generally attracts lazy one word or broken phrase contributions further down the line. --Peter Talk 03:38, 11 September 2011 (EDT)
I wouldn't want to dismiss bullet points all together. It's a matter of taste, I guess, but I for one like them in places where there's lots of prose. Something to decide per case, I think. Frankly, for huge countries I'm expecting extensive see-sections. I could even imagine a bullet point-highlights table on the side, just to give people a first glance at the best stuff. Justme 04:21, 11 September 2011 (EDT)

Featured region[edit]

One of the more successful things we did with the country region maps was to feature a certain region and all focus on finishing it, so that we could tackle the world piece by piece. I'd like to do that here too, once we've finished cutting our teeth on the countries we all personally know best (or are simply most interested to start writing). Maybe in a week or so, we could try featuring a specific region. Any suggestions for which one? --Peter Talk 03:44, 11 September 2011 (EDT)

I think maybe we should do the countries in bold first. And there are some countries I'd like to see bold (like South Africa and Malaysia). --globe-trotter 18:49, 11 September 2011 (EDT)
By all means, bold away! --Peter Talk 19:31, 11 September 2011 (EDT)
Agree with doing bolded countries first. -Shaund 23:04, 11 September 2011 (EDT)
Yep, me too.--burmesedays 00:00, 14 September 2011 (EDT)

National parks & World Heritage Sites[edit]

Another question I've been running into. Somehow, it seems to me that World Heritage Sites and National parks should generally all be mentioned. There are a few obviously most impressive examples but for the rest it seems.. presumptuous to choose between world heritage sites. However, for places like France or Italy the lists are long and we want prose, not bullet points. I've been struggling to find a balance, also for national parks. Could I name a few and then refer to a list of heritage sites or parks elsewhere? And if so, where then? Justme 04:31, 21 September 2011 (EDT)

I don't think all should be mentioned, just write some general prose about what you can see and give the best examples. Like write about jungle in Indonesia and name the most important World Heritage Sites as examples. The rest should go in the region articles. --globe-trotter 04:48, 21 September 2011 (EDT)

Palestine a "Top Priority"?[edit]

I'm just curious as to why exactly Palestine is considered to be a "top priority"? I imagine it as one of the lowest priority areas, seeing as it's a bit dangerous and not even a real country. How did it make it up there over Ireland, Ukraine, Jamaica, Ethiopia, etc.? Even in its own region, I would consider Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the UAE all to be of greater priority than Palestine. Is there a reason or did it just get slipped in there without anyone noticing/caring? ChubbyWimbus 04:37, 29 October 2011 (EDT)

I agree Ethiopia, Nepal, Sweden, Chile are all quite popular destinations that should be a higher priority than Palestine. Peter included Palestine when he added the high priority list [1]. Of course, the list is subjective and everyone will have different opinions. There are quite a few historical sites, though, and I think a lot of people include the West Bank with a visit to Israel. AHeneen 22:31, 29 October 2011 (EDT)
I put it there because of the holy sites. In terms of sights that need describing, I would consider it a higher priority than the countries you listed. Just my subjective opinion, though. --Peter Talk 21:54, 30 October 2011 (EDT)


Totally cracked me up. --evanp 10:12, 31 January 2012 (EST)


Swept in from the pub:

I just wanted to plug our new Collaboration of the Month: a project to create meaningful see sections for all country articles. We have three people on the project; three more would mean that we would make real progress quickly. If you already are familiar with the country, it doesn't take long to write up a see section. If not familiar, this is a great exercise for learning about travel in parts of the world new to you.

This is all to say that this is a fun CotM—join in! --Peter Talk 17:45, 7 September 2011 (EDT)