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Wikitravel talk:Geographical hierarchy

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Regions & divisions[edit]

So, one of the main difficulties we're having with the GH is the difference between sub-country regions and the geopolitical divisions that often come at a sub-country level (e.g., states, provinces, departments, etc.). I wonder if there's a way that we could divide countries that could satisfy both camps -- those that feel a need to use the Man's definition of what the parts of a country are versus those who see more "natural" touristic or traveleristic divisions of a country.

For example, for the United States of America I'd see a few regions, namely:

Suggestion: as a starting point.

If I were writing a travel book, say, the "L***** P***** guide to the USA", these would be the sections I would divide the book into. But maybe it would be possible to also divide the book into states, or provide an additional index to show the states? Like, as an orthogonal view of the whole country?

Another option would be to subdivide regions until it's a reasonable size for a few city articles... like, say, on the Gulf Coast region page, providing links to Alabama,Mississippi, and Louisiana? That is, geopolitical divisions such as states or provinces could be subdivisions of what we call "regions"? I'm not sure really where these two concepts work together -- looking for input from the Wikitravel community. Thanks, -- Evan 23:29, 7 Oct 2003 (PDT)

Regarding regions, and more generally


The more I read WikiTravel, the more concerned I become about the use of the term City and specifically the Cities headings in many of the templates. I'd be the first to admit that partly this is because I'm a brit, and we have wierd rules on what constitutes a city, meaning that almost all the places listed under Cities heading on the UK pages aren't locally thought of as cities.

I accept that the MoS defines the english usage to be US and that is fine. But I'm concerned that we are not helping our users by talking about places as cities when no-one in the actual locality would recognise them as that. That simply invites mutual incomprehension or worse.

I don't know if this is purely a UK issue, or whether it applies in other parts of the world too. If it is a UK issue we could possible address it with a note somewhere on the United Kingdom page (although it may be overlooked by many there). If a bigger issue, perhaps we could consider allowing a more neutral term (say 'Communities') as a synonym for 'Cities' where the issue applies. Thoughts?. -- chris_j_wood 13:56 17 May 2004 (GDT)

I agree with Chris (although I admit I too am from the UK). There is simply no way you would call Tunbridge Wells or Rimini, to give just two examples, a city, but there is no other designation available for them. I don't think it will be a huge problem as long as all sufficient supporting information is present, but some people may find it something of a surprise if they decide to head for the "city" of East Grinstead expecting to find something akin to Philadelphia.
It is certainly something to be discussed, for the UK at least. What exactly to do about it, however...I'm afraid I'm not really sure. Sorry! -- Sjc196 10:03, 17 May 2004 (EDT)
I think "communities" is a little wordy, and has other connotations. I don't think there's another good word for what towns, villages, hamlets, unincorporated settlements, megalopolises etc. are except "cities". I don't think we need to be overcorrect on this, and I don't think there's another clear single word that's not going to sound forced. --Evan 23:52, 17 May 2004 (EDT)
I agree that there are many Towns, Villages, and others units that do not fit the City name, and residents would laugh at being called a city. However, I think the only area that creates any problem is in the Region template, where it has ==Cities==. and we are putting towns in there. Most other references are on the administration side and don't really effect the reader at all. I wonder if it could be satisfactorily addressed simply by allowing in the Region template the alternate wording of ==Cities and Towns== (or similar when appropriate) for that section. -- Webgeer 01:38, Jul 24, 2004 (EDT)
I agree that using more accurate headings when necessary makes sense. (For example, we use "States" for sub-regions in the USA, and we use "Provinces" or the like for other countries). I don't really like "Cities and towns" or "Cities, towns, villages, beaches, unincorporated urban areas", etc. I don't think it helps all that much to be overprecise. If we have 8 real cities and one beach resort town in a list, I don't think we need to make it "Cities and towns" . --Evan 11:47, 24 Jul 2004 (EDT)
Living in rural Maine, over an hours drive from any city, I must agree that it makes no sense to use the city designation. Perhaps Municipalities would be a better choice. I have found Wiki to be very urban oriented. Downtown Carthage has one store, that's it, but by Wiki rules, a complete guide to the area requires hotels and restaurants. While the store does sell food, I wouldn't want someone showing up looking for fancy fare. I believe that we need to start realizing that not everywhere is as urban as New York City.--KevinNSaisi
I believe this has loosened up since the 2004 discussion above. If a region has no large cities I believe it's OK to change the heading to "Towns". -- OldPine 11:44, 18 February 2008 (EST)


I think we need a rule of thumb for how many districts are appropriate for cities. I'd like to start off by proposing a variant of the rule used to gauge the need for subway lines: one million inhabitants == one subway line == two districts. So Berlin gets 6-7 and only truly giant monsters like Tokyo, New York or London can rack up several dozen. Jpatokal 12:01, 15 Nov 2004 (EST)

I think the intent should be not based on the size of the city, but the size of the article. Cities should be subdivided into districts when the articles start getting to large. I think that the districts should be large enough that it is reasonable to write an article about each district. In truly large cities, the districts may require further subdivision into subdistricts (I think that was done with New York) -- Webgeer 18:13, Nov 16, 2004 (EST)
Consider the NGA (National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency) solution of calling them "Populated Places" - and there are subtypes under that domain.

Cities vs metropolitan areas[edit]

Swept in from Wikitravel:Travellers' pub

Renamed discussion from Problem with London page hierarchy (Hypatia 05:30, 9 Oct 2004 (EDT))

Don't know whether anyone else has noted this as yet, but there is a problem with the hierarchy of London pages.... The various outer London districts and suburbs have not been integrated within the "breadcrumb" hierarchy that would be ideal and which has been used in such cities as Sydney and San Francisco.... Central London districts seem OK however. Fixing this inconsistency is going to mean a bit of page moving and reorganisation BUT better sooner (i.e. now), rather than later, right? Anyone got any objections? Any suggestions about how best to approach this? Pjamescowie 02:19, 30 Sep 2004 (EDT)

I think we use sub-pages only for districts (neighborhoods) within a city. For suburbs (individual cities close to but not part of a big city), make them their own top-level article. If you need to group them together into a big article, consider a region article like Greater London. --Evan 13:36, 30 Sep 2004 (EDT)
I still think this is problematic with Sydney -- the inhabitants don't really have any concept of Sydney/Greater Sydney, and with a very few exceptions (Richmond and Windsor for example, and some of the very oldest suburbs like Parramatta -- but not its immediate surrounds) the suburbs were created when the city grew outwards, rather than being absorbed by the city. If we use the strictest administrative divisions we'll confuse travellers because "Sydney attractions" like the harbour, and Bondi, and the beaches, for example, would be "near" Sydney, not in it. Anyway, I've brought this up (extensively) on Talk:Sydney. I have a feeling other Australian cities, particularly Melbourne, have exactly the same problem. To Australians they're one unit, and definitely cities not regions, to the Wikitravel guidelines they're a bunch of cities near each other with a very small "real" Sydney" (which actually only includes about a third of what you'd think of as the "famous" Sydney sights, in particular, the Bridge is arguable) and "real" Melbourne in the centre. -- Hypatia 03:20, 5 Oct 2004 (EDT)
OK, I sort of bowed to (became convinced by) the argument that Sydney should be a region article, so people might want to have a look at the 'proposal' section of Talk:Sydney -- Hypatia 05:39, 8 Oct 2004 (EDT)

It looks like Los Angeles has a similar problem: I don't know LA very well, but it looks like their districts are enormous. If the policy really is we prefer different parts of a large metropolitian area like London, Sydney or Los Angeles to be written up as cities, not districts, I think this needs to be spelt out somewhere -- Hypatia 05:30, 9 Oct 2004 (EDT)

I think you need to look at a map, and look at Talk:Southern California/Hierarchy. I think we have a pretty decent breakdown of the area. And, no, this isn't a hard-and-fast rule. It's just that we tend towards consensus in hierarchies, otherwise they don't get stable. We had problems with Southern California since people were writing articles that considered Los Angeles to be everything east of Phoenix and north of Tijuana. Tending towards legal and traditional boundaries makes it easier for everyone to work together. --Evan 17:27, 9 Oct 2004 (EDT)
Hmm, it still leaves me irreconciably confused about what to do with Sydney. It's either a city of hundreds of square kilometres with a few very large districts, a city of hundreds of square kilometres with hundreds of small districts, or a bunch of cities. The last doesn't fit the "traditional boundaries" test, and the first two are both incompatible with the way you view districts. Hence why I keep trying to draw people out on this question.
But noone seems to bite.
I'd like to do a lot of work on Sydney, but the existing districts are clearly inadequate (they have holes) and also much too large to be districts according to the Wikitravel definition. However, thinking of Sydney as thirty separate cities, with the Bridge, the Harbour, the Opera House etc etc becoming "day trips out of Sydney" and Sydney becoming "a very small city with very few residents located somewhat to the south of Sydney Harbour" (that's the legal boundary of the City of Sydney) is also weird. Hence why I am trying to draw people out on existing decisions. -- Hypatia 18:01, 9 Oct 2004 (EDT)


Swept in from Wikitravel:Travellers' pub

The article naming conventions say that:

When the two places are on the same level of hierarchy, we take the name of the next place up in the hierarchy and add that in parentheses afterwards.

This is being violated all over the place. Orange (New South Wales), to give an example of my own, should really be Orange (Central West), because the Central West (New South Wales) region is technically in between Orange and New South Wales in the hierachy.

To give another example, Professorbiscuit has put Birmingham (Midlands) up for deletion, and says that Birmingham (England) is a better article name, but according to the guideline above, Birmingham (Midlands) is actually more correct. And another: Perth (Australia) really ought to be Perth (Perth) according to a strict reading of the guidelines, because the surrounding region is called Perth too. (No, it can't just be Perth (city), because of the existance of Perth (Scotland)).

It seems to me that the guidelines are problematic for several reasons:

  1. Many city entries that need to be disambiguated are being created before the surrounding regions. Many times, when disambiguation is needed, only country or at most state articles exist above that city. When the regions get more fine-grained, the article name suddenly falls foul of the naming guidelines.
  2. Many very small regions have names that are very generic (Central West) and/or names that aren't very well known outside the immediate area. (Birmingham (England) is much more comprehensible to me as an Australian than Birmingham (Midlands).)

At the same time, it's not clear to me what a simple replacement rule would be. We can't use "highest point in the hierachy" because US cities in particular tend to share names with one another. Hypatia 17:14, 16 Dec 2004 (EST)

Would "highest point in the hierarchy that is certain to be unambigious" help? So the rule would be go as high as you can go and still be sure to be unambigious. For example, if I were to disambiguate San Jose, I wouldn't use San Jose (Bay Area (San Francisco)) because I can go higher in the heirarchy. Since I happen to know that city names are unique within US States, but are not certain to be unique within the US, I would choose San Jose (California) rather than San Jose (USA) regardless of whether or not any other San Joses exist in the US.
With this rule, the disambig would 1) never be higher than a country. 2) would be the country name for countries which ensure no duplicate city names exist 3) would be the state name for US cities. -- Colin 18:07, 16 Dec 2004 (EST)
I think that that's a fine suggestion, but like probably others (including the status quo) it's going to require some work on existing articles to bring them into line. Hypatia 18:46, 16 Dec 2004 (EST)
I most certainly agree that something needs to be done because this causes me endless problems when I fix dead-end / orphan pages. Also there is no consistency e.g. I noticed that someone has a link to "Glendale (california)" while others have simply used "Glendale". The actual article doesn't exist yet but it is possible that this will end up as two articles and there is no way to pick this up. (BTW, I found Glendale is also a suburb of Salt Lake City but this is correctly done as "Salt Lake City/Glendale". Making suburbs as sub-pages will sort this out). The "All Pages" feature only shows pages that exist.
Also, what happens is we have "abc (Region)" and "abc (City)" in two different countries?
And there needs to be format consistency e.g. is it "abc city" or "abc (city)" or "abc (City) or what?
I personally think that the bit of the top of the article should say "abc is a city in the state of xyz in mno". That way it could be "'''Birmingham''' is a city in the [[Midlands]] of [[England]] and the reference could be "Birmingham (Midlands)". --Nzpcmad 23:57, 17 Dec 2004 (EST)

Pushing attractions up[edit]

Swept in from Wikitravel:Travellers' pub

As far as I can tell (by pounding on Special:Recentpages), we have a lot fewer complete/good region articles than we do complete/good city articles.

I know from working on New South Wales and Central West (New South Wales) some of the reasons why this is: mainly, it can be very hard to write general enough info for some of the sections. (For example: New South Wales is enormous, and there's heaps of border cities you can drive in through -- yikes, makes Get in tough! Also, a bunch of sections -- especially Drink and Eat essentially read "see Sydney where 85% of the population of the entire state and about 95% of the restaurants live!")

But there is one concrete thing that people could work on to improve some of the region articles: taking the premier See and Do attractions from the listed cities and pushing them up to the region article (the style guide recommends simply "Attraction X in City 1" as the listing, so it's quite easy). You can do this for any region article that's got two or three city articles with a decent attraction listing. At the moment very very few region articles have a See or Do section at all. -- Hypatia 16:38, 7 Nov 2004 (EST)

Pakistan and South Asia[edit]

User: Sheely has been trying to move Pakistan out of South Asia and into Central Asia for quite some time. Unfortunately, geography does not allow it. So I've been reverting, but it wouldn't hurt to have someone other than an Indian to look at it. --Ravikiran 01:59, 22 Dec 2005 (EST)

Do we really want counties as destinations?[edit]

I am having a hard time with this. I don't see a US County as a valid destination in "most" cases. I can see the need for splits of the major regions in each state as it becomes more and more difficult to keep the city list to less then 10. But I am not convinced that counties are the best split in most cases. We have had some recent activity adding disambiguated pages for U.S. Counties and before we get too far down the line I would like to discuss the issue of using U.S. Counties as destination points as a general rule. The Anon user doing this has been very cooperative to hold off the edits while we discuss this, this person has been doing a log of good edits and clean up and the efforts are appreciated. There has been some discussion on this at Talk:U.S. counties (disambiguation), but I think we were talking apples and oranges. We if do decide to use Counties across the board, the disambiguation page would be good.

There are exceptions to using counties; California areas near the major cities come to mind like Orange County. I think Orange County is very famous and for sure should be considered a destination. We have 3100 plus counties in the U.S. and I don't see most of them as destinations for travelers. I expect we will find rural counties that don't even have a sleep.

To be honest, I could be convinced to change my mind, but I would like to hear the arguments fist. -- Tom Holland (xltel) 09:10, 15 March 2006 (EST)

I agree with you 100% that counties are generally not destinations and shouldn't generally get their own pages. Like you said there are exceptions, usually in suburban areas. I guess to Orange County I would add Nassau County (New York) (or is this one just "Nassau"?) and Westchester County New York. I don't think anything in Chicagoland should be done by county though, unless the Chicagoland article gets too big.
I think the anon user is right though that the pages should be made, but as redirects to the correct regions. For instance Cook County (Illinois), Lake County (Illinois), and DuPage County (Illinois) should exist, but only as redirects to Chicagoland. -- Mark 09:23, 15 March 2006 (EST)
What about counties as regions to hold cities in? It seems to me that a county which has 8-10 incorporated cities is the logical region article to hold them. Or is there a better way?
Secondly, what about large suburban counties where the cities pretty much merge into one another? For example, in Union county, where I am right now, someone who has business in Clark could very well stay in Rahway and look for dining options in Cranford. In such a case, wouldn't it make sense to move up a lot of this stuff to the county page? (Of course, I am not an American and I do not have a sense for how typical this situation is. ) — Ravikiran 10:32, 15 March 2006 (EST)
I think counties do make sense in some cases. For large metro areas where it "may" or may not sprawl across more then one county, I would use "Metro Area". Now the east coast is another exception as one city runs into another all along the coast so "Newark Metro Area" may not work and counties may be the best way to go. Ravikiran is likely a better judge of that. I am thinking about doing a "Tulsa Metro Area" and "Oklahoma City Metro Area" and they will cross county boundaries. -- Tom Holland (xltel) 11:43, 15 March 2006 (EST)
I don't see a real consensus here yet at least on a alternative for counties, and I am still torn on the "County" as a destination. The problem is I don't see a real good alternative and it seems like the Wikitravlers like to create them. Also as Wikitravel begins to mature and we get more and more users and contributors the Regions we have now in each of the states are going to have 30 plus cities listed, maybe a 100 or more in some cases. Does anyone have a proposed alternative to counties? The anon users suggestion for redirects is good, but what do we do about regions that get over burdened with city listings? -- Tom Holland (xltel) 18:43, 24 March 2006 (EST)
I have been thinking about this and watching the development of counties for a few months and I am changing my position on this. I really don't see any good alternative. When we get too many cities/towns/villages in a states region, then the best place to put these are in a County that is set up as a region. I am also one of those people that believe that even small villages and town deserve there own article. So, for the USA I think the counties are the way to go. Don't get me wrong... I don't plan on creating 3000+ county articles, but I will use that as a placeholder for some areas where there are a lot of small places that have articles to prevent orphans and regions with 20+ city links. As always, all comments are welcome! Tom Holland (xltel) 08:10, 26 July 2006 (EDT)
Coming in late on this, but: I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all answer to this one. For a place like Alaska, where individual counties (technically, "boroughs") are bigger than many entire states, a borough/county organizational structure may make sense. For Texas, which has approximately Avogadro's number of counties (many totally devoid of interest to the traveler, as far as I can see), a county-based breakdown is completely impractical, and for say Rhode Island, it's gilding the lily. I believe the correct policy is "do what makes sense," preparing to err on the side of redirecting seemingly extraneous county lists/organizational structures to superior regional structures, rather than deleting those lists/structures. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 12:07, 12 August 2006 (EDT)
Also coming in late on this one, but I think Bill is right on both dealing with counties on a more or less case-by-case basis and redirecting when needed. In some cases a useful travel region will also be a county, but in other cases they may not be one-to-one at all... Maj

Allow me to saunter in a year later and add, we're in the process of removing county articles from Washington (state). We divide the state into about 8 regions according to tourist interest, e.g. Puget Sound, and define those regions in terms of counties. Maybe we have subregion articles, e.g. Kitsap Peninsula based on geography and tourism, or King County based on government boundaries and local use. All destinations are linked to from a region, a subregion, or maybe the "Get out" section of a destination article. Someone was nice enough to create articles for all the counties in Washington, but we are making them redirects to the appropriate region or subregion article. Thus: counties are useful to define a region, but are not articles in their own right (unless driven by tourist logic, in which case they are subregions). See the discussion at Talk:Washington (state)#Proposal to eliminate counties from hierarchy. JimDeLaHunt 19:03, 11 June 2007 (EDT)

New Discussion[edit]

I'd like to revive some discussion about how to handle US State Counties, because I think it would be useful to have an official policy to follow and refer to.

The issue is: the vast majority of US State County articles are content-less Outlines (and will remain that way) because they are not valuable as State sub-regions and are even more useless as travel Destinations.

The political boundaries of state counties are too arbitrary for useful travel region breakdowns, and in most cases are far too specific an area. I think we should have some policy in place which discourages the use of State County articles, and sticks to the State>Region>Sub-Region hierarchy for State organization. I think in the majority of cases, the 3rd-tier State sub-regions are (or would-be) an area which covers multiple counties, and is the smallest area specification that warrants a region delineation.

Exceptions: Some exceptions might be:

  • Famous Counties like Orange County, which have value as a travel destination in themselves
  • Small States like Connecticut and Rhode Island, where counties are a significant part of the state

It has been suggested in the past that we make redirect pages from the County to the smallest region which subsumes it, and I think that is worth discussing, but first we should establish whether the opinion to discourage County pages is widely held or not.

What do you guys think? --Jtesla16 12:44, 21 June 2009 (EDT)

  • I agree that there's a lot of useless county articles, but I think the easiest way to handle this is on a case-by-case basis, not special "exceptions". If a county (assuming it is a region article) doesn't have a worthwhile number of cities (I'm thinking like 5 or 6), redirect it to the larger region and link the cities from the larger region. I think counties work as a way to break down regions, but only if there's enough towns in said county.
  • Well that brings up another related issue: Should every city in a state be linked through the organizational hierarchy? I think that every city deserves its own article, but I do not think you should be able to navigate to every city from a state page. Similar to how we do not list every hotel in a city (because this is not the yellow pages), I don't think we should continue breaking down regions into smaller and smaller sub-regions to list every city within a state. That is a level of comprehensiveness which hinders usefulness in my opinion. Any cities that are not linked from a state's sub-regions can still have the breadcrumb navigation which places them in a given region, but they will not be included in the 5-9 highlighted cities. This allows for pages to be made for every city, but limits the scope of hierarchical regions to a manageable/useful level. --Jtesla16 19:31, 21 June 2009 (EDT)
We've discussed this issue below. I think the answer is unequivocally yes, all cities/towns should be navigable via the geographical hierarchy, as it is the basic organizing principle of our guide to the world. This should not make the guides less useful, since the 7+2 rule prevents clutter at any given level of the hierarchy. If someone is interested in Central Maryland specifically, they can go to that page, while someone interested in only the major destinations in the state can just look at the links from Maryland. Going further, not everyone who would read about Central Maryland would be interested in information about slightly less important destinations in Baltimore County—they don't have to read it, but it's there for someone looking for a more precise region.
We limit the amount of things written about, both listings & destinations (via 7+2), but I see no reason to limit our site navigation to the articles that we have. --Peter Talk 19:44, 21 June 2009 (EDT)
I'm not a fan of county articles for the sake of county articles, unless they are the best way to break up a given region – cacahuate talk 20:19, 21 June 2009 (EDT)
So in the end, the amount of sub-sub-regions in a State will roughly be (# of cities in the State) / 9? This seems a little ambitious to me, but is that the final goal? --Jtesla16 20:40, 21 June 2009 (EDT)
Not really. Per the discussion below, regions at the bottom of the hierarchy (i.e., regions with no subregions) can have more than nine destinations in the cities & od lists. Montgomery County (Maryland) seems like a pretty good "end region"—more cities/towns could be added, even going over nine, since it would not make sense to subdivide further. Of course, if another 25 worthless town articles were created for insignificant communities, that should make us think about further subdivision (but that wouldn't happen, since the worthless articles would be deleted per Wikitravel:What is an article?).
This is unrelated to the question of using counties, though, about which I agree with PerryPlanet that we should treat it as a case-by-case basis. And by the way, a good way to avoid county articles is to come up with a robust regions breakdown at the state level. We tried to do this for Iowa, and I think it was pretty successful—none of those regions look like they'll need to be subdivided in the foreseeable future. --Peter Talk 20:50, 21 June 2009 (EDT)
These seem like reasonable arguments, but I have some questions. It seems to me like the vast majority of places that most people would call "insignificant" will still have a hotel, and therefore be eligible for an article. How then, do we strive to make all these cities/towns navigable, without regions that are mere outlines with a list of towns? I think eventually, Montgomery County could have 20+ valid city/town pages that it subsumes, and certainly all the Iowa regions will warrant sub-divisions. Seems like there needs to be some higher standard to qualify an article (other than a sleep listing), or these insignificant towns should not be navigable in the hierarchy. (Maybe I have misunderstood what qualifies an artcile though, so I am looking for some clarification).
I think Maryland is a special case, and falls into the Small State exception above, but think of how many levels of sub-regions it would take to get to that County level in a larger state. Are 4 or 5 sub-region tiers within a state tenable?
It's my impression that, long term, if there were an article for every town in American with a hotel, it would not be practical to make them all linked and navigable within the geographical hierarchy. I would be inclined to highlight the most notable cities in a region, down to a practical level, and then let all the remaining towns retain their breadcrumb navigation to the region they belong, but not be explicitly linked from a region page.
What are other User's visions of achieving the long term goal? --Jtesla16 23:04, 21 June 2009 (EDT)
I don't know how much this has to do with vision, but I don't see (ha) any way to avoid making sure every destination is linked. What's the point of having an article if no one can ever navigate to it? They could search for it, but if they don't know it exists, and can't get there via our hierarchy, why bother? LtPowers 09:34, 22 June 2009 (EDT)
That's a good point, but I think there is a growing tendency to make articles for every town that exists, including those "insignificant" ones with little to no travel interests, in order to reach a level of comprehensiveness on par with WP. My only point is that I think that level of comprehensiveness is problematic for a useful travel-minded hierarchy. --Jtesla16 16:45, 22 June 2009 (EDT)

(Unindent) I believe there are enough cases where counties are acceptable region divisions that we do not need to strengthen the current guidance on them. They do have a number of advantages over other ways of subdividing regions: they are well-defined, familiar to locals (the ones adding content), usually have their own tourism departments/web sites, and provide ready-made names. (For example, I'm thinking of subdividing Finger Lakes as there are a lot of communities listed currently, but none of the possible divisions have obvious names available. Using counties is not practical in this case (since the county lines run through the middle of the lakes), but if it were, it would at least solve the naming problem. =) ) LtPowers 21:30, 21 June 2009 (EDT)

Oh, and just for contrast, if I were to subdivide the neighboring Niagara Frontier region, I'd be sorely tempted to use counties, because no other option is any more useful to the traveler. LtPowers 21:34, 21 June 2009 (EDT)
I updated the page a little, I hadn't looked at this in quite a while, it needs a decent overhaul and condensing, but I lack the focus at the moment  ;) – cacahuate talk 20:24, 22 June 2009 (EDT)

When is a Country a Country?[edit]

Swept in from the Pub:

I've been looking around a bit to see if I could find a policy regarding how to divide places up by counties. It's obvious for most places, but there are enough disputed territories that it seems worth while: Jammu and Kashmir, Taiwan, Tibet, ect. It would also be fairly easy to do by listing a few criteria. I would suggest: Immigration control/rules (i.e. who issues the visa, controls the border post), and currency would be enough, although I'm open to more. These are two important things for travelers, but to clarify them would limit edit wars by people with political bias. I know that it's kind of already covered by "wikitravel is for travelers" but I do think it's useful to clarify it all the same as to how that relates to national borders. keithonearth 16:35, 29 Jan 2006 (EST)

If such a policy is drafted, currency wouldn't be a very good criterion, because it can muddy the waters more than it clarifies things. For example: the US dollar is the legal currency in several countries; the banks of England/Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland each issue not-entirely-interchangeable Pound Sterling notes; and some federations of countries share currencies (e.g. former French colonies in Africa, several Carribean islands, the European Monetary Union). In most cases it's clear enough what's a "country"... and where it isn't, I don't think any arbitrary site policy is likely to settle it. TVerBeek 19:34, 29 Jan 2006 (EST)
I'd not realized that about African former French colonies, and I don't know if any of them are engaged in border disputes, or how my seg. However in the case of Euro-zone countries there's no real debate as to where the borders are, it makes no difference in the UK to clarify or muddy the situation, nor are the borders disputed in the case of the countries using the USD. However, with regard to my above examples (J&K, Tibet, Taiwan) it does clarify things. Unfortunately I'm not knowledgeable enough of ambiguous areas outside of that. Immigration control alone could be useful too, again the EU is confusing to deal with (or more accurately the Schengen countries) but likewise it's not really an issue. I don't really think that your critisisms are enough to dismiss my idea alltogether, a more sensible approach might be to just be more explicit that it is De Facto boundaries that are the ones we are primarily interested in. Thanks for your answer.keithonearth 21:00, 29 Jan 2006 (EST)
My point is that currency isn't a sound criterion. If it isn't relevant to the status of Panama or Belgium or Burkina Faso or Saint Lucia as separate countries, why would it be relevant to Taiwan or Kashmir? And Northern Ireland is a disputed territory, where the question of whether Bank of Ireland notes can be used in England could very well be used to stir up the waters. Better to steer clear of politics and not declare what is/isn't a "country", and stick to simply describing places. 20:31, 30 Jan 2006 (EST)

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of treating countries/states as somehow separate from regions. It may not be that big of a deal, but this policy gives Wikitravel an unnecessary nationalist slant, opens the guide up to silly political edits, and makes this discussion necessary. I'm not a fan of the "special" quickbar we have for countries only, and I saw a bunch of edits today trying to "upgrade" Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland to country status; so this has been rattling around in my head today. To have a policy that would match our practice, we would assign "country status" to regions administered by a government which reports to no higher administrative unit—to regions with sovereignty. But of course that is more complicated within the EU. I know no one will support me on this, but why not just get rid of the whole country distinction altogether? I really don't see any advantage to it. --Peterfitzgerald Talk 19:21, 11 June 2007 (EDT)

Man, you're on a deleting kick, Peter! Seriously, though, there are some kinds of information that belong at the country level and rarely elsewhere. For example, information about visas and currency. I think the majority of countries are monolingual; we typically have a "talk" section at the country level and rarely at the sub-national region level.
Like it or not, countries have meaning to most travelers in the world, and ignoring their importance wouldn't make our guides more useful. --Evan 20:21, 11 June 2007 (EDT)

For what it is worth, the criterion of immigration/visas/passports/customs is probably the most useful to the traveller. Pbsouthwood 06:04, 20 October 2009 (EDT)

Depth and the templates[edit]

Swept in from the traveller's pub

I am very happy to have found Wikitravel, since this has been going round in my mind since I knew Wikipedia. I could contribute a lot of Information and pictures for Germany (my homecountry), Taiwan, Sint Maarten, Anguilla, Rhodes,... I am very unsure where to add Information, because despite many entries still being largely empty (Taiwan south), There is already a huge and very deep structure present: Of course, Kenting/Taiwan is Pingtung county, which is south Taiwan. But I cannot fill the Pingtung county template, and who will find the Kenting info there with all the empty templates in the way.

I would propose to do a top-down approach, splitting up files as they become too large or too much, instead of building an uncontrollably large structure first and then fill it bottom-up. Generating empty templates for an empty country doesn't help the project, as it annoys readers a lot. Plus, the climate for all of south Taiwan is tropical, which means hot and humid. It does not have to be stated for every single county or region.

Same goes for Munich/Germany, by the way. Yes, Munich can be split into hundreds of sub-units. But then no-one will find this nice restaurant in Rotkreuzplatz/Neuhausen/Munich in the first place. Too deep! I doubt that it is in the interest of the project if I go through these entries and prune like hell. Can someone point me to either the reason for the template-madness or a go-ahead to prune?

Marc 05:30, 18 Feb 2006 (EST)

We are, for most part, using a top-down approach. Travellers going to Kenting will likely just punch in or search for "Kenting" and find the article, the regions are meant to help them find things that are nearby.
And I agree with you completely that cities should not be split into a million districts, just as many as logically needed and no more. Please suggest what you think would be a good division on Talk:Munich. Jpatokal 05:57, 18 Feb 2006 (EST)

Should every city be listed in *some* region?[edit]

I've run across two conflicting goals. 1) Limit the number of cities per region to 9. 2) "Un-orphan" city articles. I'm not big on #2, but I've noticed people adding cities to regions with the note that they're un-orphaning. If we're going to do both, it seems like any region with more than 9 cities (well, let's say significantly more, since we'd make an exception for a place with exactly 10 cities) should be broken up into sub-regions. The example I'm thinking of right now is Maryland, where I added an article for Brunswick which is certainly not one of the top 9 cities in the three-county Capital Region. It might be one of the top 9 in Frederick County, if we broke the region into sub-regions. For now I've added it as a "Get Out" from Frederick to un-orphan it, but I was wondering what the general consensus is in situations like this. -- Jonboy 14:09, 17 January 2007 (EST)

I think the solution here is to break things up into sub-regions, if possible. Yes, every city should be in some region. --Evan 14:21, 17 January 2007 (EST)
I certainly agree with the 9 limit higher up in the hierarchy, but once we get down to some lower levels, I don't see why there can't be more. If it's way out of control then as Evan says, break it up into more regions, though I also don't think we should make too many regions just for the sake of not having more than 9 cities listed in one region... many regions will have more than 9 cities in them but not require subdivision. - Cacahuate 17:49, 24 February 2007 (EST)
I disagree. There are many places where the abundance of tiny-but-still-destination towns is so great that they can only be listed in a region by either making the lists ridiculously long, or sub-sub-subdividing regions to the point that they are no longer useful. An alternative approach to de-orphaning should be sought, if resolving orphan articles is really that important (and maybe someone can explain to me why it is, I don't see it). One possibility that I've raised previously, via the pub, is creation of a "rural area" article type that could become a catch-all for such places. Maybe that should be reconsidered. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 18:05, 24 February 2007 (EST)
I think when a region has more than 9, that means some cities need to be moved to a subregion. If the subregions don't yet exist, then I think the cities should be left in the region anyway and treat it as "there is work to be done here." (Orphaning the cities also leaves work to be done, but because there is no big-honking list staring people in the face, it's less obvious that the task is unfinished). I only favor strongly enforcing the 9 limit once reasonable subregions have been created.
And that said, I think it is reasonable to leave some regions unsplit. In Bill's rural region example, I think you just have to sometimes live with the fact that there are more than nine cities and the region can't usefully be subdivided. -- Colin 18:12, 24 February 2007 (EST)
Full support. The no-more-than-nine guideline is good for making sure that our mid-level region articles don't get overly cluttered with specifics they shouldn't have, and a list of more than nine cities in a region is a good prompt to consider creating subregions. But that's not always going to make sense. If we have a dozen towns in Northwest Central Freedonia, splitting that into Upper Northwest Central Freedonia and Lower Northwest Central Freedonia is probably going to be harder for the traveler to wrap his head around than a list of 12 towns. - Todd VerBeek
I think that when a region gets filled up with >9 cities/towns, we should subdivide the region. But until those subdivisions are up, I think it is preferable to leave the excess cities/towns in the smaller regions until new subdivision are created. --Peterfitzgerald Talk 15:49, 2 June 2007 (EDT)
Why must we subdivide a region just because it has more than 9 towns in it? I'm as obsessive a control freak as you're likely to meet, but I think the no-more-than-nine rule ought to be ignored when we get down to this level (i.e. the "leaves" of the "tree"). It's no longer a problem of overwhelming people with a list of all 31 states in Mexico, such that they can't figure out what's where; if there are 15 destination-level towns in the Little River Valley, why can't we just list them? - Todd VerBeek 11:08, 10 June 2007 (EDT)
I agree that we shouldn't get too obsessive about that magic number 9. It makes a lot of sense as a hard limit for articles like USA that cover hundreds of thousands of destinations, but if there's a finite number in the region (10 islands, 11 villages, 12 cities), then it's much more sensible to just list 'em on the same page instead of doing some sort of completely artificial obfuscatory split. Jpatokal 11:20, 10 June 2007 (EDT)
I also agree that we should exercise a certain amount of flexibility and 'consensual' discretion regarding the number of cities listed on sub-regional pages, though I think sticking to the magic combination of 7+2 for main country articles is good idea as these are easy to spiral of control and with 'no recourse to the law' are difficult to reign in. WindHorse 11:36, 10 June 2007 (EDT)
7 +/- 2 is a guideline, not a rule. Having more than nine items in a list is an indicator that a list should be split up, but it is only an indicator - the rule is Wikitravel:The traveller comes first. Contra Costa County has twenty cities listed, but since there isn't any natural division in the county (North & South Contra Costa County? Nah...) and since the county article is basically just an index to the region it's not really to anyone's benefit to break things down further. Similarly, California has ten regions, but it just wouldn't add any value for travelers to create (for example) a Northern and Southern California article just for the sake of slipping under the magic number of nine.
Where this guideline is most useful as a rule is in listing things like cities in a parent region where child regions exist. There's no reason to list more than 9 cities for any state, country, or other region article when a sub-region is available. There is also an argument to be made that when we have more than nine restaurants, hotels, etc in an article that sub-sections should be considered, but again, that's a guideline for improving articles, and not a rule to be followed blindly. -- Ryan • (talk) • 12:31, 10 June 2007 (EDT)
My question is, if there are US counties that have been created that link to cities, towns and villages, should they be deleted as not being useful, regardless of the 7 +/- 2 rule (or suggestion)? I agree that in some cases it is alright to have more then the nine listed. I also believe that all locations should be un-orphaned in the hierarchy somewhere. -- Tom Holland (xltel) 14:17, 10 June 2007 (EDT)

When to districtify a city[edit]

Discussion moved to Wikitravel talk:Huge city article template#recommendations on when to (not) districtify a city

Listing sub-regions?[edit]

So we've got a little debate started over on Talk:New Zealand and Talk:Indonesia about how much info we can include in an article. Both countries had the top-level region's sub-regions listed on the main country page, which goes against our current policy. Personally, I don't see a good reason why we need to list them, as that is what the region pages are for in the first place.

It's been suggested though that for some destinations it's necessary to describe what's in them if they're vast, etc. I can sort of see a point to this for places like the USA, to know which states fall into which region at a glance. But then I would argue that the beautiful color coded map shows you that. It's also been suggested that we should mention them in the description of a region. I'm not so much for that either, though I don't mind as much the way it's done on India#regions since it's just touching on the highlights of the region, which is what the description is for. Anyway, it's already been a longish conversation, but I thought maybe we should discuss this in the right place so we can come to some sort of agreement on what should and shouldn't be. A place was included for sub-regions on Template:Regionlist, but I don't think the desireability of that was ever discussed, so shall we now? – cacahuate talk 16:44, 28 May 2007 (EDT)

Sure. We've never really done hierarchical lists for regions, and I'd prefer not to. I think that if there's something really important to note about some particular region, it should be noted in the description. We don't need to list sub-regions and sub-sub-regions and so on. --Evan 17:03, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
I do not think listing full hierarchy schematics (like Talk:Russia/Geographic Hierarchy) on country pages is desirable. As it is, country articles tend to be too long and cluttered because many editors seem to want to put the whole country travel guide on the top-level page. I think that approach is something we should discourage.
Also, I think all countries that have regions should have a regions map. But the absence of such a map is not a good reason to throw everything on to the country page, it is rather a hole to be filled with a new map. The color coded regions maps are actually not that difficult to produce, and there are plenty of editors at Wikitravel who are willing to help new mapmakers.
I think it is sometimes a good idea to list key subregions in region descriptions, but in general I think less is more—long region descriptions make the lists look cluttered. I'm also not a fan of the sub-regions section of the Regionlist template because I just don't think it is necessary. Less is often more. Of course, we have some bigger problems when the geographic hierarchy does not make sense, as in England where there are overlapping subdivisions, some of which can't be reached through the top-level divisions (e.g., Cumbria/Chester). --Peterfitzgerald Talk 17:13, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
I think the subregions section is necessary when the split is not obvious. For example, for Indonesia most people have no idea what on earth Nusa Tenggara is, so you need to explicitly list its major islands (subregions), such as Bali. As a counterexample, as Kalimantan is split into the thoroughly obvious Central, East, West, and South Kalimantan, there's no reason to list these. See Indonesia#Regions for an example.
Also, I don't think we can assumed that maps can replace these lists, even if they are gorgeously done (like the US one). They're handy if you're already familiar with the country's geography, but how quickly can you find the Kurgan Oblast on a map of Russia, or Oita (prefecture) on a map of Japan? Jpatokal 22:25, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
I suppose that doesn't bother me so much, nor does the way it's done on India#Regions. I'd definitely rather it not list all of the subregions though, just big attractions that someone might be looking for. But then that's subjective. I don't know where Oita prefecture is in Japan, but I also don't care ;) The main country page can't solve every possible problem that might be encountered, it should solve the most common ones. If I'm looking for something specific and obscure, I would be expecting to have to dig around a little. If someone told me they were from Lubbock and I didn't know what state that was in but wanted to find it, I wouldn't expect to find a direct link to Lubbock on the USA page. – cacahuate talk 22:43, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
The jury is out on this one. In general, I think it unnecessary to add sub-regions to the front page article. If a sub-region is more famous than the main region it is categorized under (as in the case of Nusa Tenggara and Bali), then it can be mentioned in the description as in the Bhutan article. However, to avoid the scenario that Jpatokal mentions, where an oblast in Russia or a prefecture in Japan cannot be found easily when only listed on a regional article, especially if travelers are unfamiliar with the country (and we should assume that they are), then perhaps they can be added on the front page as long as it is done so in an unobtrusive way - take a look at the Taiwan and China regional lists as examples. However, obviously the sub-regions listed should only be the next sub-category, not every village or hamlet. Anyway, just throwing some ideas into the pot. WindHorse 23:24, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
Nusa Tenggara is a good example of a region for which subregions should be mentioned in the one-line description—Bali is something people looking at an Indonesia page expect to see. Kurgan Oblast is a good example of why we shouldn't be listing subregions on country pages because it is not relevant for 99% of the people who check out the Russia page; in any rate, anyone specifically seeking information on Kurgan would just search for it. In order to have Kurgan up on the main country page, we would have to flood all viewers of the page with subdivision details. It is for this reason (avoiding overwhelming the reader with information) that we have a limit to how many regions can be listed on one page and listing US states in the regionlist template, for example, does seem like sneaking around our 5–9 limit. I think we should resist the (for some reason) ever-tempting impulse to cram entire country guides on the main article. --Peterfitzgerald Talk 00:09, 29 May 2007 (EDT)
Bali is a great example. Bali is much more famous than the Nusa Tenggara in general -- it should be a top-level region of its own. --Evan 07:30, 29 May 2007 (EDT)
I actually wouldn't mind that for this particular example, but it's a bit of a dangerous path to take. New York is much more famous than Nebraska -- should it also get a top-level region? Jpatokal 11:53, 29 May 2007 (EDT)
There's definitely an argument to be made there: it's not only more famous than Nebraska, but it's also more famous, and more important as a travel destination for Americans and unAmericans alike, than most of our top-level regions. In some versions of the USA page New York has been a top-level region. I'll see if I can dig up the reason it was removed. Another good example is London in England. --Evan 13:03, 29 May 2007 (EDT)
London and New York (at least New York (city), the überdestination in question) are both listed on those country pages, under "Cities". If a major destination that's tucked away in an obscure region isn't a city or "Other destination", I don't see why it couldn't be called out in that region's description as a special case (e.g. "Nusa Tenggara - Also known as the Lesser Sunda Islands, the "Southeast Islands" contain scores of ethnic groups, languages, and religions; the location of Bali") - Todd VerBeek 13:55, 29 May 2007 (EDT)
Yeah, I think better to list it in the description like that then make it a top level region just because it's famous, if for every other reason it would make more sense to have it within another region – cacahuate talk 15:08, 29 May 2007 (EDT)
The list of states in each region within the US article was just removed, with this discussion as the pointer. I think that action makes the article less useful, and at a quick glance I don't see anything above that calls for removing these lists - a comma delimited list of states would seem to be OK and not fall into the bulleted list trap that has been discussed. In any case, the map on the US page isn't large, and I think we're more likely to avoid arguments about regions when we list the states that make up those regions. -- Ryan • (talk) • 23:21, 26 June 2007 (EDT)
Well, this discussion has bounced around from topic to topic, but my reading of the discussion (which was initiated by Cacahuate explicitly to vet the use of subregions lists in the Template:Regionlist) is best summed up by Evan's comment: "if there's something really important to note about some particular region, it should be noted in the description. We don't need to list sub-regions." Jani commented that subregions lists might be useful "when the split is not obvious." I contend that a color-coded map right next to the regionlist template makes regional divisions quite obvious and is much more design-friendly than unpacking subregional hierarchies.
Moreover, although we continue to have this discussion, I always thought that this was clear-cut per The 7±2 rule and our general practice of avoiding the slippery slopes of adding subregional content (i.e., more cities, more regions, subregional listings) to articles. In part, though, I did remove the states list on the USA page because I didn't think this conversation reached a wide enough audience. --Peter Talk 23:42, 26 June 2007 (EDT)
I've read through this thread now - it seems like there are two camps in this discussion. One group is pushing regions as as way to sub-divide unwieldy large areas, while the other sees regions as a table of contents to a large area. In the first group Indonesia would be broken into sub-regions, one of which would contain Bali, while the second group would make Bali a top-level region to make it faster for users to find. Granted, there is a lot of overlap in these two groups.
It seems that the old list of regions on the US page with a comma-delimited list of states would satisfy both camps: the US broke down nicely into a manageable number of regions, and those looking for New York state (or any other state) had a link within the Mid-Atlantic region listing to click on. I think that addresses the concerns of both groups, and I don't see any real downside. The concern, as I understand it, is that an article would contain a bullet for "Mid-Atlantic", with a sub-heading for "New York state" with infinite number of sub-headings below that. I don't think the "regionlist" approach encourages that, and I would be in favor of using it where it makes sense. -- Ryan • (talk) • 00:19, 27 June 2007 (EDT)
I agree with Ryan. My rule of thumb would be that if Wikitravel is using an arbitrary region grouping (say, "Mid-Atlantic"), then the non-arbitrary units it's composed of (states, provinces, etc) should be listed. Having a map doesn't make the grouping obvious — the state names are illegibly small in this particular example, maps are not clickable, and in general we can't rely on users having access to images. Jpatokal 04:59, 27 June 2007 (EDT)
My basic objection to what we are doing on the United States of America page is that we have listed 58 regions. That's way more than our suggested limit of 9. One of the main things I strive against here on Wikitravel is the oddly alluring temptation to cram all available information on to single country pages. The most useful tool in fighting such cramming is the The 7±2 rule, and I would prefer that we follow it whenever practicable.
And what is the point of even having region pages like the Midwest or South if we are just going to list all their subregions anyway? It is unsurprising that our USA region pages are underdeveloped because we are not taking them seriously—whereas I think they have the potential to be fine and useful travel articles.
Finally, I mentioned the regions maps because I thought that would make the "unclear regional groupings" argument go away, but there is a more obvious reason why our regions section does not need to list regions twice removed: they are already listed on the appropriate regions pages! Why duplicate that content on the main country page (or continent page for that matter)? And why are our regional groupings unclear if they are listed on the region page? Ultimately, I think this is a matter of whether we want to actually use regional hierarchies to organize content or not and whether we think region pages are worth writing. --Peter Talk 04:28, 29 June 2007 (EDT)
Keep in mind that 7+/-2 is a usability guideline - throwing a bulleted list of thirty items at a user generally reduces usability. Similarly, regions (in my view) are a way of breaking large amounts of content into more manageable pieces to improve usability; it's impractical to think that the US article could contain exhaustive detail about every facet of the US. Being overly strict in applying the 7+/-2 guideline introduces a danger of reducing usability in the interest of following a rule, which would be bad. If someone is visiting Arizona it's logical that they might expect a link to Arizona in the US article - the same goes for Bali in Indonesia, or France in Europe - and we would do a disservice to users by eliminating those links for the sake of a 7+/-2 guideline.
Regarding the comments about "why have region articles if we're going to list some sub-regions", I agree with Jani - if there are non-arbitrary units like states or countries that a user is likely to be looking for, it doesn't hurt to list them in the regionlist template. Having a larger region that includes several of these units, however, allows us to group them and provide more granular detail about travel opportunities in (for example) the Midwest (United States of America) without overwhelming the parent article. Again, it all boils down to usability, and I think the balance we've found with the current US hierarchy (including the state lists) is a good one. -- Ryan • (talk) • 15:01, 30 June 2007 (EDT)
Hmm. That argument seems fair—in a situation like United States of America or a continental section, nearly all the subregions will be prominent and famous enough where a link is expected. Since it won't be possible or desirable to simply include links to all of them in the region description (as it is with Bali), it becomes useful to list them in the regionlistitems. I'm satisfied with that!
I think our continental sections would stand to gain from using the Template:Regionlist for this reason. As of now, they are using our deprecated long, bulleted lists. --Peter Talk 16:25, 30 June 2007 (EDT)

US Counties[edit]

We have people all over the board on this one. Some like them, some don't and it applies across the board between users and admins. We need to figure out if they are allowed, to be deleted, to be redirected, used as place markers and how they fit. We are all over the board on this and to be honest I have flopped around on it as well. But we are going to have issues with this until we get a hard set rule. So, let's get after it and come up with a solution, even if we have to go state by state and region by region. What do we want here and how do we handle them? I will comment later on, once and will be brief. -- Tom Holland (xltel) 15:04, 10 June 2007 (EDT)

I think they should be used if they make sense... it's going to be hard to make a set rule on whether or not to use them. The rule should be that a place is divided into chunks most manageable by travelers... and if counties fits that description for a certain place, then great. But I don't think we should create county articles just because the county exists. If Western Example is remote and has little of interest in it and can easily be summed up in one page, yet contains 4 counties, I'd vote against7 creating the 4 county articles. – cacahuate talk 15:31, 10 June 2007 (EDT)
My thoughts are:
  1. Do use counties and groups of counties as part of the geographic breakdown when they make sense as subregions.
  2. Consider using counties if they are "close enough" to a good breakdown to be good enough. For example, we break the United States into whole states even though words like "Southwest" commonly include portions of additional states.
  3. If you use a group of counties to define a region, you are not obligated to break the region into those county articles. For example, one might define the Bay Area in California as a specific set of counties and yet break the Bay Area into subregions like "East Bay" or "South Bay" instead of breaking the Bay Area into counties. Or as cacahuate says, you might not need to break the region down at all.
  4. If a region desperately needs a subregion breakdown and no one is knowledgeable enough about the region to break it down intelligently, go ahead and use counties as a placeholder. Someday an editor will come along with better knowledge and can propose a new breakdown.
  5. If a county breakdown is replaced by a "better" breakdown, the better breakdown should still have well-defined borders. The old county region articles should either be turned into redirects or disambiguation pages so that we don't need to maintain two distinct article hierarchies for the same place.
-- Colin 15:48, 10 June 2007 (EDT)
I think that creating counties as "place holders" until someone knowledgeable does a better regioning would be a mistake. That doesn't postpone the decision; it makes the decision. At that point the precedent is set, and it's going to be followed: that region will be further divided by counties. Odds are its sibling regions will follow the pattern as well. And they'll stay that way until someone with a masochistic streak and a personal knowledge of the region decides to change it. That will be at least as difficult as re-districting a badly-districted hugecity, and comparable to re-regioning a haphazardly-divided country. P.S. I'd like to express the opinion that having more than nine cities doesn't constitute "desperately needing a subregion breakdown". "The traveller comes first" outweighs the "7+/-2 rule"... not the other way around. - Todd VerBeek 18:32, 10 June 2007 (EDT)
I agree the 7±2 rule need not be followed just for the sake of following the rule and that larger numbers should be tolerated rather than creating haphazard regions. Of course, if someone is familiar enough with the place to break it down, they should, but not otherwise. -- Colin 02:04, 12 June 2007 (EDT)
There's a pretty clear consensus that they (like any administrative region) should be used where they make sense, and that they should not be used otherwise. The only real question is where they make sense, and I don't really see all that much disagreement there either. They make sense in places where the counties were shaped by settlements, such as the UK (where we use them) and much of the 13 colonies (where we sometimes do, and it works). They make sense in some urban areas where the county has become synonymous with the metro area or where (God help the locals) counties actually help carve up the megalopolis. In places where the county lines are mostly drawn with a straightedge at right angles and often narrowly missing city limits (e.g. the Midwest, Great Plains, Texas, Rockies, and Southwest), it's hard to see how they're going to be useful to anyone but a Wikitravel editor trying to keep a city list under 10 items. - Todd VerBeek 18:48, 10 June 2007 (EDT)
Strongly agree about the 7+/-2 rule... it works at the higher levels, but I don't think we necessarily need to let it dictate how we break things up further down. It makes sense on a country article to only list a selection of 5-9 cities, but maybe not so much on lower levels. I would never break up a region only because it has more than 9 cities in it, unless it really made sense to for other reasons. – cacahuate talk 20:04, 10 June 2007 (EDT)
Thought I'd chime in here, because I've been explicitly breaking up regions in Maryland once we hit more than 9 cities. Taking Capital Region (Maryland) as an example, once we had more than 9 cities with articles, that seemed like a good time to break things down further (to the county level), rather than have a list with 10 cities. Could I have waited? Sure. Would it make sense to do subregions if there were only 10 cities total? No. But in certain instances, I think it makes sense to use hitting more than 9 cities as a warning -- "hey, there's too much information for this to be the smallest subdivision". In the case of Maryland, each of the counties (let alone 5 major regions of the state) could probably have 20+ articles, so I don't feel bad breaking them down further. --Jonboy 23:43, 10 June 2007 (EDT)

We are presently eliminating counties from the hierarchy in Washington (state). As the one doing the work, I strongly agree with Todd VerBeek that inserting county regions "doesn't postpone the decision; it makes the decision". It's a tedious bit of work to move content out of those inappropriate shells and into regions that make more sense. I like Colin's list of principles above, except for #4 about putting in counties as a placeholder. In the case of Washington (state), someeone followed #4, and undoing it not fun. JimDeLaHunt 21:48, 13 June 2007 (EDT)

Not much I can add here. There really does not seem to be a clear consensus. Some like them, some don't, some think they are okay some say don't even create them. I am mixed on it as well.
I did see one region that was split by counties, but the regions had a more interesting name then the county name. The article reverenced the county as the boundary for the region. That might work in some areas where the county boundaries make sense. It seems even when people don't like the counties they rename them or combine two or more to create a sub-region. I know that in some cases it really makes sense to split a county into two or more regions as the top half may be the mountains and the bottom have the valley with all the cities or other variations.
The discussion for Washington (state) region realignment was good. As a minimum I think that should at least discuss changes before we make a big change at the US State level or splits on the major regions in a state. If someone wants to change the method used, let's discuss it and develop a plan. If anyone has any other comments, they are welcome. I was really hoping we could come to a consensus, but I am not sure that is possible. -- Tom Holland (xltel) 18:15, 14 June 2007 (EDT)
What is the current policy on US Counties? Although it is discussed here that using counties may be undesirable, that opinion is not explained on the policy page, as far as I can tell. In my opinion, US Counties are somewhat useful as a very low level regional breakdown, especially if tourist information is organised and available at the county level, rather than a higher level such as a State. Also, because Wikipedia has a good deal of information about each US county, they serve as entry points into Wikitravel, so even if we do not use them directly, they can at least point visitors to the most relevant regional article. However, I am not sure that a single hard and fast policy is required here. In some cases, using counties is appropriate, in other cases it is unnecessary, though not necessarily undesirable. - Huttite 00:00, 21 November 2009 (EST)
In my opinion, there needs to be a formal policy statement made about using administrative entities, such as US or Irish counties, Indian Districts, Australian shires New Zealand Regions, etc., as regions. It could be this statement : Use a natural geographic region in preference to an administrative region. Use an administrative region to plug a gap in the geographic hierarchy, only when it is reasonable and practical to do so. If an administrative region has only one main city or town that administers the region, especially if it has the same, or similar, name, then use the administrative city or town rather than creating a separate region article, i.e. the city or town includes the surrounding region that it administers even if some of it lies outside the official town boundary. A separate regional article may be justified if several destination articles each refer to the administrative region's attractions and that duplicated information would not easily fit into a single (smaller) destination or (larger) regional article. - Huttite 20:56, 12 December 2009 (EST)
I don't want us to get too precise in our proscriptions, as the nature of subdivisions is always a subtle matter. The simple way to handle these concerns, I think, would be to alter this bullet point:
Political or legal definitions. Some countries are divided into states, provinces, counties, cantons or what have you by their governments. It sometimes makes sense to use these if they're the best way to break up a region, and when they're not so numerous they'd violated the 7±2 rule. For example, Mexico has 32 states — far too many for the top level regions.
I'd rewrite it:
Political or administrative definitions. Use government designated divisions (states, provinces, counties, cantons, etc.) only when they make for sensible travel articles. Don't use them if this will lead to countless articles about tiny administrative divisions with little content. As a general rule, divisions based on geography, history, culture, and other institutions relevant to travel, are better. It often makes sense, however, to draw boundaries for larger regions using the boundaries of administrative divisions, as this makes it clear where the lines are drawn.
Hopefully, that would be clearer. The question of to where to redirect "non-regions" should be addressed at Wikitravel:How to redirect a page, not here, I think. And I don't think this article should explicitly discuss what to do with U.S. counties, since that is a complex question better suited to the type of discussion above than a one-size-fits-all proscription, and because the article deals with the world, not just one country. --Peter Talk 22:00, 12 December 2009 (EST)

"Districtify" template considered useful[edit]

I plunged forward and added information to the Huge City and Districts section suggesting use of the {{districtify}} template. I think Template:Districtify is quite helpful. See, for example, Vancouver#Eat. But when I wanted it, I had a hard time finding instructions about it in the MoS. If there are concerns or objections please post here. JimDeLaHunt 00:31, 12 June 2007 (EDT)

Yep, looks good! – cacahuate talk 01:09, 12 June 2007 (EDT)

Single parents[edit]

"A "hierarchy" actually means that no two places overlap. Each geographical unit should be contained by exactly one 'parent' unit."

This part of the policy seems misguided to me. Travelers often expect to see subregions listed under multiple regions. Good examples are Turkey, which is located in both Mediterranean Europe and the Middle East, and France, located in Mediterranean Europe and Western Europe (see very relevant discussions at Talk:Middle East#African countries and Talk:Mediterranean Europe#NOT FRANCE ??). In both these cases (as well as other cases like Russia's inclusion in both Asia and Europe), our practice has been to list the region/country in question in both parent regions. To arrogantly quote myself, this practice "is a practical way of indexing the country (in regions for which the country is very often on a traveler's itinerary) and does not cause any significant content overlap, which is the concern of the "avoid overlap" policy."

We do have to choose a single parent region for the purpose of breadcrumbs, but that is no reason to avoid putting a link to a region on multiple parent regions. What we have been doing is to put region A into the regions list of only one parent region X, but when readers would also expect to see region A in parent region Y, we note that and provide a link to region A. If that was too abstract, take a look at the Rocky Mountains article, which acknowledges that Utah and New Mexico are also Rocky Mountain states, without actually including them in the subregion list (they belong to the Southwest. In a few cases, we have actually listed a region in more than one parent region—the most prominent example being Russia and the Caucasus, located in both Asia and Europe. I see no problems with this practice as long as we don't create serious content overlap (for an example of overlap and navigation problems caused by poor hierarchy, check out Cumbria and Lake District).

This one section of our hierarchy does not match our (sensible) practices and I think should be changed to a less rule-oriented, simple admonition to avoid content overlap when sorting out regions. I have updated the "Overlap" section, but if this was inappropriate, please feel free to revert and we can discuss it here. --Peter Talk 04:46, 25 June 2007 (EDT)

The point about a single breadcrumb is not totaly true. At one point about a year ago Evan indicated that the breadcrumb would be updated so that multiple breadcrumbs could be added if a region appeared in more then one parent region. Not sure what the status of that is, but at the time the go ahead was given to add multiple breadcrumbs. At this point the last one in the list is what shows, but when the new functionality is added there will be multiple breadcrumbs in the heading if there are more then one parent. Take a look at Ozarks as an example and Wikitravel_talk:Breadcrumb_navigation#isIn_more_than_one_breadcrumb for the discussion. -- Tom Holland (xltel) 10:20, 25 June 2007 (EDT)
I changed the wording a bit: from "must choose one parent region for breadcrumbs" to "breadcrumbs will only display one parent region." I suppose we can change this section again when the new functionality arrives. --Peter Talk 14:23, 25 June 2007 (EDT)

Several content organization issues[edit]

Hello all. I have a handful of content reorganization proposals that no one has commented on. Unlike some of my more impulsive proposals (e.g., "Delete countries!"), these are all proposals I have been thinking about for some time. But I don't feel comfortable altering existing hierarchical schemes without some sort of "yes this is a good idea" comment; accordingly I would appreciate it if anyone would take a look at them. I suspect that I am just being ignored on some fronts, but others may just be flying under everyone's radar, so here's a list:

Finally, there is another woefully incomplete discussion at Wikitravel talk:Geographical hierarchy#Listing sub-regions? that I think requires some serious thought.

Thanks! --Peter Talk 04:30, 29 June 2007 (EDT)

San Francisco Districts[edit]

...cont'd from

Hi, yep sure.."Many American Cities"....not San Francisco though, and in any event, Non-Governmental District or not, the boundaries are delineated by politicians, and with the greatest respect, not Wikitravelers. Demonstratively, I might decide as a matter of personal interpretation, that my house was "distinct", as you say, from my neighbors - it doesn't follow that we're in two separate Districts, simply because I may wish it so.

Anyway, Colin what you said was interesting and it got me thinking. Is there not an obvious physical constraint here - doesn't the file size of an article act as a de facto determinant of what it can contain? That is to say, that isn't there a point where you have to start breaking articles up due to their length? The fact of the matter is that even though there are circa 34 neighborhoods listed, in reality there are probably over a hundred neighborhoods in San Francisco [1] - and lets say that's about 10 per district. Surely, no matter how one delineates a district, or area, or whatever, there cannot be between 11 and 13 articles covering San Francisco - too much information surely?? Colin mentioned Chicago - that has circa 40 articles. So in any event, we were probably going to have to break them up anyway. There are also logical constraints, for example, if you look at either proposal, both have Union Square listed with the Tenderloin. They may be geographically neighbors, but boy are they different. I can't imagine a meaningful list of "Budget Hotels" in the Tenderloin listed side by side with the budget options of their much ritzier neighbors.

So, if I am correct about that, would that not really satisfy both camps. You could use the official Districtal classification, and for those Districts that are of lesser interest to travelers, you could simply have one article pertaining to the entire district. For other more popular districts, you would have artistic license to merge or concatenate 'Neighborhoods' as you saw fit. Sure, as Colin says, its kinda cheating a little but I think it's here (at the Neighborhood level) that one would really have poetic license to express the culture of the city etc. and you would get to draw lots of colorful lines within the existing Districtal demarkations. So, PerryPlanet would also get to list more popular neighborhoods like Fisherman's' Wharf, separately. As long as they came under the correct Districtal headings on the main San Francisco page, then travelers wouldn't confuse 'Neighborhoods' with 'Districts'. Just a thought. Oops, I feel like I'm holding up the show here, I am happy to go along with the consensus is - I just feel a little uneasy about cracking out the Crayolas and drawing new districtal lines over a city, but if that's the decision - no probs! Asterix 17:07, 25 March 2008 (EDT)

Ah, on second thought Asterix, you might want to post this in the talk page for San Francisco. When I said we should continue the discussion over here, I just meant the bit about the word "districts" and if we should use a different term. I meant it more as a question of general Wikitravel policy rather than about specifically San Francisco (which seems to be the theme of this post). Sorry about the confusion, I really should have made myself more clear. PerryPlanet 17:59, 25 March 2008 (EDT)

Widely spaced attractions[edit]

Swept in from the pub:

So, I'm working on the Finger Lakes article. I added a bunch of cities to the article as I was building the map you see there now, because this is the lowest-level region in the hierarchy. (In New York right now, counties are linked but most don't have articles.) The problem with this is that outside of Rochester (especially) and some of the larger lake communities, most of the villages have just a few attractions here and there. There are also some attractions that would be of interest to Finger Lakes travelers but aren't located in a municipality that could support a standalone article. (Example: Finger Lakes Gaming and Race Track in Farmington -- it's really the only thing in Farmington, but it's an important location and arguably too far from Victor or Canandaigua to include in their articles.)

So how much of what the Region article template says ("Region articles tend to be more "soft", discussing the people, culture, climate, and cuisine in the region, rather than the legalistic stuff that's in a country article, or the addresses-and-phone-numbers stuff that's in a city article.") is universally applicable? Is it okay to have attractions in the region article alone, or must all attractions ("addresses-and-phone-numbers stuff") be in a city article of some sort? If the latter, at what level can we combine two cities (say, Waterloo (New York) and Seneca Falls (New York), which are about three miles apart, smaller than the size of the markers on the map)?

Thanks for any input.

-- LtPowers 15:57, 10 June 2008 (EDT)

Hey there, welcome! Basically, an attraction or any sort of listing should go as low in the hierarchy as possible... if you have a lodge in a remote part of a county that's not in or just outside of a city, then you could list it in the region article instead. Or, if it's just outside of a city, list it in the "Get out" section of that city, which is meant for nearby towns and attractions (or likely next destinations).
So in any given section on a region/county article, you'll possibly have a mix of two things: A description of highlights of the region, possibly including one-liners pointing to a specific attraction in a city... and then you'll have attractions, lodges, etc that are remote and can't be pushed further down the hierarchy.
Regarding cities, our general rule is that if you can sleep there, it's ok to have an article on it. If Waterloo and Seneca Falls are two distinct cities, even that close, then we should have 2 articles... Islamabad and Rawalpindi are in a similar situation, but both deserve articles. Hope that helps! – cacahuate talk 20:56, 10 June 2008 (EDT)
OK, so generally, it's okay to have an article on a particular municipality even if there aren't many attractions to list?
The other question that comes to mind is dealing with suburbs. In the case of Rochester, it's almost absurd to limit oneself to attractions within the official city limit, because the city limit is pretty meaningless to a traveler. Is it suitable to include suburban attractions within a city article, and if so, how far out? LtPowers 22:38, 10 June 2008 (EDT)
If the attractions are in places that are not destinations themselves (no or minimal places to sleep), then it's OK to put them in the city article itself, even if they are technically outside city limits. The traveller comes first. Jpatokal 01:55, 11 June 2008 (EDT)
No, that isn't the case. There are plenty of places to sleep outside the city limits; in fact many of them will be the first choices for people visiting the city, precisely because the city limits are relatively meaningless to the average traveler. Even the airport is outside the city limits. What I'm saying is that in the city article, it seems silly to leave out (say) information on the area shopping malls simply because they're a couple of miles beyond the city border; the same goes for countless other restaurants and tourist attractions. LtPowers 09:38, 11 June 2008 (EDT)
In that case I would do the same as I would do in a region article... list the attraction in the actual article where it should be, provided that the nearby city/suburb has its own article, and then put some sort of pointer on the metropolis page. See Los Angeles#Parks, where I just did that with Six Flags Magic Mountain – cacahuate talk 14:20, 11 June 2008 (EDT)
If the city limits are meaningless to the average traveller, then they should be ignored in the travel guide as well. So if Motel 7 is just across the county line, and the said county has too little of interest to warrant its own article, then just slap it into Rochester. Jpatokal 00:57, 12 June 2008 (EDT)
Like how the Buffalo Bills are listed in the Buffalo (New York) article even though they play in Orchard Park? Thanks for the advice both of you. LtPowers 09:11, 13 June 2008 (EDT)

Article Hierarchies[edit]

Swept in from the Pub:

How much information to add to a lower level article that is already in a high level article? For example every article in Australia for coastal cities seems to have the same information on staying safe at the beach, sunscreen, swim between the flags, what to do in rips. There are three possible approaches I can see.

  1. Include the info at every level of the hierarchy
  2. Include the info at the top level only, and assume that every visitor to the city/town level article should be aware of the info at the top level
  3. Include a link to the top level information at the city/town level, when it is relevant to the City/Town.

I'm inclined to do the third. I know we want the articles to be printable, etc, but there is some information which is contained in the guide that should be accurate and verifiable, and it is certainly easier to do this if the information isn't repeated 100+ times in every sub-article. Any other opinions? --Inas 20:00, 29 October 2008 (EDT)

In general info should go at the highest level that it applies to... we don't need to describe what an autorickshaw is on every Indian city page, just in the India article. However if there's something specific about rickshaws in Bangalore that is relevant to the traveler, then it should be note on the Bangalore page. With safety info, I think pretty much the same should apply. But if riptides are a particular hazard at a specific beach in Australia, it should be noted I think on the city/beach page too – cacahuate talk 12:10, 30 October 2008 (EDT)
Yes, the third option is the way to go: generic/universal info at country level, and reminders plus links in from lower pages when applicable. Duplicating eg. safety info is still OK in my book (it changes rarely if ever), but fast-changing/extensive stuff like currency info, local cuisine etc should be on the main page only. Jpatokal 15:49, 30 October 2008 (EDT)
Do we really need links in every applicable article? It already leads to much duplication, and one-time contributors frequently expand every mention in lower level with some details that should belong to higher level (and sometimes are there already). See Spain and its regions / cities: Barcelona, Bilbao, San Sebastian as an example of much duplication. Why not the first option? --DenisYurkin 18:47, 30 October 2008 (EDT)
No, just when it's really necessary and applicable. If riptides are strong all along the California coast, then discuss that at California. But if they are particularly strong in Santa Barbara, then it should be noted on that page too, especially since it's a safety issue. – cacahuate talk 19:47, 30 October 2008 (EDT)
In tropical Australia just about every article has some mention of Crocodiles. The information in every article is different, with different advice, and a different assessment of the relative chances of becoming supper. This info is really quite important, almost to the point that it should probably be referenced. Again, I might look at just including a reference to the common information in the higher level article, and any specific information for the location in the lower level. I'll see if it results in too much ugliness. --Inas 01:39, 31 October 2008 (EDT)
I agree with the above comments that advice should be at the highest level (usually this would mean country, but for big cities sometimes at the city level.) I don't see the need for cross referencing in most cases, though it sometimes may be appropriate, usually through a brief internal link. In particular, I think (though it often isn't done, which is why I'm mentioning it) that comments on food, safety, and scams should be put on the highest level unless they refer to special local conditions: if moussakas and souvlaki are described in the Greece food section, there's no need to mention them in the Mykonos section, unless you're recommending someplace there that does these dishes especially well. But local specialties should be described on the specific local page rather than the national one. Sailsetter 19:19, 16 November 2008 (EST)
Methinks that if we are going to want to say or refer to the same information in hundreds of articles, and it is going to be (almost) the same thing every time, then we need to say it once, in one place, definitively. Most Safety information about beaches in Australia is probably going to be similar to that in New Zealand, Hawaii, California, South Africa and even Europe. If there is country specific variation in information this might still be able to be included in a general article. I think this falls into the Other ways of seeing travel and Travel topics. I would suggest, for this type of "we cannot stress this enough" or "if you ignore this you could die" safety information, a separate article that can be linked to is needed. Simply referring to the information within a country or regional article, or assuming it will be referred to even if it is not mentioned is inadequate. -- Huttite 04:55, 13 January 2009 (EST)

Extra-hierarchical regions[edit]

We have some regions that are not a part of our geographical hierarchy, but which nonetheless need articles because of their travel importance. Ones that come to mind are Navajo Nation, Great Lakes, Appalachian Mountains, and Alps. Per the suggestion at Talk:Navajo Nation#Travel topic?, I'm asking whether others think it would be a good idea to move away from the region article template for these extra-hierarchical regions and turn them into travel topics instead. Not that this should be a strict rule, but an option for dealing with this quandary. --Peter Talk 21:24, 3 February 2009 (EST)

While I mostly like this idea, would this be a rule or a simply a recommendation? An area like Lake Tahoe really should have its own region guide rather than forcing users to visit the relevant region articles for California and Nevada. Similarly, of the examples cited by Peter, I'd suspect that Great Lakes might be better represented as a disambiguation page. Provided any policy change indicates that extra-regional areas should be redirects, disambiguation pages, travel topics, or actual region articles (in that order of preference) would seem to be the option that best fits in with Wikitravel's existing practice, and best meets the goal of producing an organized and useful travel guide. -- Ryan • (talk) • 21:46, 3 February 2009 (EST)
I think it's a good idea, but it would probably be best handled on a case-by-case basis. An article like the Navajo Nation would, in my opinion, make an excellent travel topic because it's a well-defined place with a unique culture, and there's plenty of advice to offer to travelers regarding that culture and how to travel here. Lake Tahoe in some regards looks like it could definitely be a good travel topic, but on the other hand I'm not entirely sure that's the best direction for the article to take. All I'm saying is we should take a careful look at the place the article is for before we slap the travel topic tag on. PerryPlanet Talk 22:03, 3 February 2009 (EST)
I think we're overanalyzing this. Navajo Nation is a perfectly sensible "region," with a "feel" for the traveler that is more integrated and region-like than the "regions" that contain it. Our guidelines/rules are flexible enough to allow for exceptions if they make sense -- or, if you prefer, "prove the rule." Why get wrapped around the axle when such exceptions arise? -- Bill-on-the-Hill 01:13, 4 February 2009 (EST)
The main problem with overlapping regions is breadcrumb navigation. Should Window Rock be IsIn Navajo Nation or Northern Arizona? Right now it's got two IsIn templates but we can only display one set of breadcrumbs. LtPowers 09:04, 4 February 2009 (EST)
Geographically, Window Rock is in Northern Arizona. WTP? -- Bill-on-the-Hill 09:08, 4 February 2009 (EST)

Deleting outlines[edit]

There have since been discussions on the above topic elsewhere, and the main objection to the creation of extra-hierarchical regions is that there is simply no end to the possible pages that could be created, potentially leaving us with endless, pointless region articles. That same argument applies to itineraries, and we have finally come up with a policy to handle those. I suggest we apply the same rule to extra-hierarchical regions—if one sits around for a year and remains an outline, lets delete it. --Peter Talk 10:32, 3 May 2010 (EDT)

I don't think these are as clear a case, especially if the article titles are potential search terms. An extra-hierarchical region like Lake Ontario might never reach beyond an "outline" -- that is, it may never be more than a list of destination guides for cities on the lake, but that doesn't mean it's not worth keeping around. LtPowers 13:31, 3 May 2010 (EDT)

Does every destination deserve a mention in a regional article..[edit]

This may have been addressed somewhere already.

Although we only like to have 7-9 things in a list, does every article at least deserve a mention in the higher level regional guide? Or should a region that has so many sub-destinations be divided? Or should it just omit some? --inas 20:33, 6 July 2009 (EDT)

See #New Discussion and #Should every city be listed in *some* region?. -- Ryan • (talk) • 20:43, 6 July 2009 (EDT)
Yeah, I think the goal is to make every destination navigable within the hierarchy, and included in the breadcrumb trail. Functionally, that means if a Region has many more than 9 dependent cities, we should consider further breaking it up into sub-regions. So ideally every destination is mentioned in the immediately higher Region that subsumes it (but obviously may not be mentioned in the region two tiers up). --Jtesla16 21:02, 6 July 2009 (EDT)
Thanks for the pointers to above. --inas 21:27, 6 July 2009 (EDT)
I wonder if we should state this clearly on the policy page as follows. Every destination should be mentioned, with a wiki-link, in at least one other destination article. Cities and Other destinations should be mentioned under those section headings in at least the surrounding Region article. This should normally be the same article mentioned in the IsIn or IsPartOf template. Regions should be mentioned in both the next larger region up in the hierarchy and in all the destinations within that region. Destinations that are close to each other should be mentioned in each other's Get out section, especially if they are not in the same regional hierarchy. Major destinations could and should also be mentioned higher up in the hierarchy, if there is room for them. -- Huttite 23:15, 20 November 2009 (EST)
Bump! Does no response mean acceptance or consensus? In the absence of any comment I am going to now add the above to the policy page. - Huttite 23:18, 4 January 2010 (EST)
If we have a valid article then I'd agree it should be listed in another article somewhere. That said, it is very difficult to come to agreement on regional hierarchies, and if a random user creates a region article that doesn't fit within the existing hierarchies it does more harm than good to add it to another region, so in that case I think that it should either be redirected or deleted. -- Ryan • (talk) • 23:27, 4 January 2010 (EST)
Broadly speaking, I would agree with this, with the same caveat as Ryan gives. I do not think though that we should specify that close destinations should be mentioned in the get out section of an article. Sometimes that makes no sense at all. Get out should be for interesting "where next" options which are easily reached, not necessarily those nearby. --Burmesedays 23:46, 4 January 2010 (EST)
I have to admit to never having understood why everything needs to be linked to, and what the problem is with "orphaned" pages.... I understand linking to popular and likely destinations.... But a tiny one horse town that will only be visited by those with a reason to go will be easily (and more probably) found via search, rather than navigating down from higher regions. Am I missing something else? – cacahuate talk 09:25, 5 January 2010 (EST)
IMHO it's a matter of completeness and organization - regions are very often merely an index, and it makes sense to include a full roster of cities within that region. If a place is truly so small that it doesn't meet the Wikitravel:What is an article? criteria then we would obviously leave it out, but if we have an article it seems like a good rule of thumb that we should figure out where it belongs in our hierarchy and list it there. Giving travelers multiple ways of finding a place (search & region) seems like a win without any real downside. -- Ryan • (talk) • 12:39, 5 January 2010 (EST)
Interconnectedness of pages is part of the basic ethos of a wiki, often referred to as "building the web". The links between articles are the key navigational property of a wiki; any search function is non-optimal in many ways, and generally shouldn't be the primary point of entry for users. It is also not for us to say that some destination is so insignificant as to not be worth mentioning anywhere else -- that a user should only find it if she is looking specifically for that destination. LtPowers 13:36, 5 January 2010 (EST)
that sounds to me more like a yellow pages approach than a travel guide approach. The whole reason to write a travel guide is for the discerning opinion that it provides.... That's it's very nature. So are we a travel guide that uses the wiki framework in a way that serves a travel guide, or is it the otherway around? I want our regions to read as great travel guides, comparable to any other travel guide, which doesn't seem as feasible when they are thought of as indexes, and arranged for those purposes – cacahuate talk 16:54, 5 January 2010 (EST)
Except that we do discern between important and unimportant destinations in deciding at what level of the hierarchy to list them. I definitely agree with your latter point, though, that it hurts our guides when we think of regions as simple indexes—while they often serve the purpose of navigation, there's no reason why we can't also aim to write great region articles, as Burmesedays has done for Bali. --Peter Talk 17:46, 5 January 2010 (EST)
Cacahuate's question presupposes a dichotomy that I don't think necessarily exists. Wikitravel is more than just a collection of travel guides; it's a set of interconnected travel guides. Building those connections wherever possible is what separates us from more pedestrian works. LtPowers 18:54, 5 January 2010 (EST)

7 ± 2[edit]

As I understand it, the main guidance here is to divide an area into sub-regions when there are many more than 9 listings, so that the groupings can be made of 7 ± 2 items.

It seems like this idea is also taken to mean 7 ± 2 items per list. I think that's a good policy, and makes sense for the psychological reasons noted. However, it seems like far too often, the guidance of “5-9 listings” is taken to mean “limit of 9,” with few lists displaying the reserve to actually name only 5 to 7 things.

One example of this is that nearly every US state lists 9 top Cities. How can we strengthen this policy to encourage more reserve in list making, or do you prefer the “limit of 9” interpretation? --Jtesla16 20:03, 22 July 2009 (EDT)

It is pretty much a limit usually, the longer lists are ones that just haven't been pruned.... the real exception is closer to the bottom of the hierarchy, we don't want to create new subregions that don't really need their own articles simply to not have more than 9 cities listed in a region – cacahuate talk 20:42, 22 July 2009 (EDT)
That's sort of peripheral to my point. To be more explicit, I don't think every list necessarily has 9 deserving entries. If the guidance is "5-9," then to me the majority of lists would have 5-7 listings, with strong arguments made to allow 9, the hard limit. This is for lists of cities, other destinations, etc., for regions which are already properly subdivided. Like US states, where the list of cities is more in the sense of top cities. --Jtesla16 21:04, 22 July 2009 (EDT)
I think it's just that most regions have so many cities worth visiting that in most cases there's no reason to have fewer than nine. On Mid-Atlantic we never could come up with a ninth city that was far and away above the other unlisted ones, so it's been left at eight. LtPowers 21:29, 22 July 2009 (EDT)
Uh, I kinda forgot we agreed to add Atlantic City to Mid-Atlantic, so never mind that. LtPowers 10:08, 24 July 2009 (EDT)
(Holds true for Mid-Atlantic other destinations, though.) --Peter Talk 10:37, 24 July 2009 (EDT)
Yeah but I was just thinking that there are a couple things missing we could add. LtPowers 13:57, 24 July 2009 (EDT)

7 ± 2 destination rule when no regional breakdown given[edit]

One problem with the 7 ± 2 rule is that it is being applied too literally by some editors when there is no deeper regional breakdown given. In my opinion, having 7 ± 2 destinations in an article should be the trigger point for starting to create a new sub-regional hierarchy for that region.

  1. Thus if there are more than 4 destinations given for a region, start thinking about a sub-regional breakdown for that region.
  2. There needs to be at least 2 sub-regions, but try to create 7 ± 2 sub-regions if that is practical and reasonable to do.
  3. If there are no sub-regional breakdowns when the list exceeds 7 ± 2 articles then the list of destinations should be split into two parts, the 7 ± 2 destinations that should stay on the regional page and the destinations that should move to the sub-regional pages. Remember that each destination mentioned in both parts of the lists will also need to appear in a sub-regional article too.
  4. Only after the sub-regional articles have been created and all the destinations listed in those articles should the regional destination list be culled to 7 ± 2 articles.
  5. If destinations are removed from regional articles prematurely, they may become orphan pages. Once this happens it may be extremely difficult to find a home for them, without putting them back onto the regional page they have been removed from; which is a waste of effort.

What do people think of this? -- Huttite 23:41, 20 November 2009 (EST)

I think we basically have already reached these conclusions at Wikitravel_talk:Geographical_hierarchy#Should_every_city_be_listed_in_.2Asome.2A_region.3F. --Peter Talk 03:36, 21 November 2009 (EST)

Optimal districts schemes[edit]

Inspired by Stefan's comment here [2], I thought it might be interesting to audit the content size of various well-organized huge cities and compare the size to the districts structure. Here are a bunch, listed in number of districts:

City Total bytes Districts Other articles Population Land area Bytes/district
London 748,000 39 0 7.6 mil 1,610 km² 20,777
New York City 610,000 30 0 8.3 mil 789.4 km² 20,333
Tokyo 436,000 27 0 ~12.8 mil ~21,675 km² 16,148
Chicago 1,088,000 21 4 2.8 mil 588 km² 51,809
Paris 405,000 21 0 2.2 mil 86.9 km² 19,285
San Francisco 750,000 14 0 .8 mil 121 km² 53,571
Beijing 446,000 14 0 17.4 mil 16,801 km² 31,857
Rome 313,000 13 0 2.7 mil 1,285 km² 24,076
Washington, D.C. 626,000 12 0 .6 mil 177 km² 52,166
Bangkok 834,110 11 2 9.1 mil 1,568 km² 64,162
Singapore 407,000 10 3 5 mil 699 km² 40,700
Copenhagen 487,000 10 0 1.1 mil 455 km² 48,700
Detroit 164,000 6 0 714,000 359 km2 27,300
Kyoto 203,000 5 0 1.5 mil 1,780 km² 40,600

Note that Beijing, Tokyo, and NYC are possibly not at the final total of district articles they could reach. Other articles (itineraries and travel topics) don't tend to be very long—Chicago's four total to just 71,000 (so the total of districts + main article = 1,017,000 bytes).

Some things stand out as interesting. Chicago, unsurprisingly, has a lot more content than any other city guide. Most Asian cities are a little underdeveloped on our site. The most telling factor in how many districts we get per city seems to be land area x content, with population playing a much smaller role.

Ultimately districts breakdowns will need to be highly tailored to the unique aspects of the city, and we won't be able to determine number of districts arbitrarily, but the land area x content figure is intriguing to me. Another factor that I expect will play a big role in determining the number of districts is actually wealth. Poor cities (per capita) will likely have fewer things for travelers to do, or at least for us to write about in terms of restaurants/bars/hotels/etc., than rich cities, which will have a much greater concentration of travel amenities. We have hardly any data to work with on that front, but Beijing does seem to conform to a land area x content x wealth hypothesis, given the enormous territory it covers. --Peter Talk 17:26, 15 December 2009 (EST)

As per my point on the Shanghai districtification, I think a bytes rather than people or km²'s should be the guiding principle. A useful rule of thumb for an undistrictified city, could be to divide the current size of the city guide with about 20,000 - and try to organise the city into that number of districts - and then work to get them all up to the optimal size, which seems to be ~30-40,000 bytes judging from the current list. --Stefan (sertmann) talk 19:12, 15 December 2009 (EST)
Well, I wouldn't try to force it too much. In particular, I don't think 40,000 bytes is at all an optimal "ceiling" for district articles. Most star district articles are ~50,000+, I believe. Chicago/Loop is about 70,000—and if anything, I think that article is still a little shallow. --Peter Talk 20:39, 15 December 2009 (EST)
Might just be badly worded, what I was trying to get at, is around that ballpark, we start to see districts that "works" well, certainly not trying to say they shouldn't be bigger. --Stefan (sertmann) talk 20:48, 15 December 2009 (EST)
Interesting analysis and Stefan's line of thinking about using bytes analysis to flag districtification is very much on the right lines I believe. A couple of random asides:
  • Isn't it great to be able to call London a well organised city? In no time at all it has gone from an unloved and very ugly duckling to a set of articles that just might end up as something special.
  • If you want a real horror show of a large city, Jakarta. Six district articles and not a piece of prose in sight. May as well be a photocopy of the Yellow Pages. --Burmesedays 22:23, 15 December 2009 (EST)
The reason I included land area & wealth (in addition to bytes) is for considering district schemes for articles that lack content, but some day will probably need to be districted. For example, mega-city Moscow has about 1,000 km² of territory, 10.5 mil people, and a ton of potential content, but terrible coverage on our site at present—less than 100,000 bytes, and no districts scheme. So just looking at land area and population, you might figure we'd one day wind up with >35 districts. Factor in wealth, of which there is plenty, but which is in the hands of a small fraction of that population, and bring that number back down into the twenties.
I came up with that number just off the top of my head, but upon checking what the Russian version has been coming up with, it is indeed 25 (although we're faaaaar away from having a finalized districts scheme). And of course, if we ever get one million bytes of content on Moscow (25 x 40,000), we'd have the best guide to the city in history, which is what we shoot for here at Wikitravel. --Peter Talk 00:29, 16 December 2009 (EST)

We forgot Bangkok ;-)

City Total bytes Districts Other articles Population Land area Bytes/district
Bangkok 620,741 11 3 9.1 mil 1,568 km² 41,382

--globe-trotter 12:14, 29 July 2010 (EDT)

Indeed! I've added it to the table on top now. --Peter Talk 17:45, 5 August 2010 (EDT)
I've updated Bangkok in the big table above as I put a lot of work in it the last months. It's funny to see that Bangkok now scores the number 1 place on "bytes per district". --globe-trotter 00:04, 28 November 2010 (EST)

Some useful clarifications[edit]

The discussion at Eastern Cambodia is very relevant to this article and I place a link here for future reference. --Burmesedays 23:39, 4 January 2010 (EST)

Handling eat/drink/sleep entry when not in a destination[edit]

swept in from the Travellers' pub

I've been wondering this a long time but haven't seen it addressed before. What if you want to add a nice restaurant/bar/inn/whatever, but it's sort of all by itself - not near a city or park. For example "Chinati Hot Springs" [3] - a rustic resort in remote West Texas that's not really near anything (I can think of plenty of other examples, though, too). Marfa and Presidio are probably the closest towns, but it's about equally far from - and quite out-of-the-way of - both. Should I create an a new page for one of the border towns that it's close to, just so this article can have a home (even if there's nothing else to add to that page)? Or can we just add it to the Region (the Help section's literature seems to indicate we should not)? In general, what is the policy? Thanks, Army of me 02:30, 29 September 2009 (EDT)

I'm not sure about policy, but for towns that can never sustain a usable status by itself, I'd prefer it if we used the lowest level regions instead. --Stefan (sertmann) Talk 04:22, 29 September 2009 (EDT)
It might be appropriate to describe such venues in prose rather than as a bulleted listing in its relevant lowest level regional article? If listings start appearing in regional aricles then it opens up a bit of a hornet's nest. --Burmesedays 20:29, 29 September 2009 (EDT)
Nothing is close to anything else in west Texas; even 100 miles is considered close out there, so in this particular case, and since it's a resort, I'd say put it in the Get out section of whatever the nearest town is. Texugo 00:14, 30 September 2009 (EDT)
Before posing this question, I was initially going to handle it as Stefan suggested but I will gladly do it another way if need be. Supposing I did put it in the Get Out section, would I still format it the same way as, say, a Sleep entry (in reference to my example)? Would I include it in both the Marfa and Presidio articles, since it's about as close to both (and thus duplicate information)? I still wonder how to deal with this in general, though - say if it was a restaurant or a bar, would people still be comfortable with putting it in the Get Out section? If it were just prose in the lowest-level regional article, wouldn't the users miss out on useful info such as prices, hours, contact info, etc.? Perhaps it's a flaw in the current system - rigidly boiling down things to a town or a park, that is. Army of me 01:07, 30 September 2009 (EDT)
This is a dilemma. Having any listings in a region article invites others to add listings to that article, and then creates a model upon which new users will think that region articles should have listings, leading them to add listings to other region articles, when they in fact belong in city articles. This causes two problems: touts love putting their listings higher up in the hierarchy, and if a listing belongs in a city, it will often get duplicated in the region article, which is a waste of our work.
But that leaves us with the types of listings you've identified, which really don't belong in the "nearest" city article. I agree with the above, that we should either put these in the get out sections of the nearest article (although that can lead to more duplicate content, as you point out) or in the appropriate lowest-level region article. Neither is a great solution. --Peter Talk 02:44, 30 September 2009 (EDT)
A third option would be to create an article for the resort area. If it's that isolated, it should have a suite of amenities available, shouldn't it, enough to support a stub destination article at least? LtPowers 09:20, 30 September 2009 (EDT)
The term "resort" is actually a bit tongue-in-cheek here. The rooms are somewhat rustic and there's no dining or activities officially "offered" at the resort (though there's plenty of independent hiking and wildlife viewing to be done). But it is known as a waypoint for more adventurous travelers and for its awesome spring-fed baths and pools to soak in (natch) and would be a shame to not include it at Wikitravel. Thanks to everyone for the responses; I can see it's not at all a cut and dry issue and darned if I can see what the best solution is.... Army of me 00:51, 5 October 2009 (EDT)

Very often I stay in "the middle of nowhere" pansions which either are not in a village at all, or are in a village that have no other interest for a traveler. For Sleep, I don't support putting it into GetOut (I'll never find it there when I'm looking for accommodation in the area) or creating a article for a village that worth absolutely no other content (same reason). I vote for sticking to "Sleep" for the nearest town (if there is any), or to a region level--with some policy to patrol additions that should belong to a town level. --DenisYurkin 12:01, 30 September 2009 (EDT)

Cities and Regions[edit]

swept in from the Travellers' pub

In my work on China and Denmark I have noticed that a certain region will often have a number of municipalities (or prefectures) each having one large city and a number of smaller towns where the large city is large enough to have its own article but where the other towns are not. Is it then acceptable to create an article for the large city and include listings also for the surrounding towns in that or would it be better to create both a region article for the municipality/prefecture (with listings for the surrounding towns but no listings for the large city) and a city article for the large city (with listings only for the city)? And if the first alternative is chosen, should it then be considered a city article or a region article? ClausHansen 18:13, 29 September 2009 (EDT)

Are you sure the towns can't support their own articles? A town has to be pretty darn small not to be considered worthy of a destination article. If there's anything to do there, you might as well create an article. LtPowers 18:49, 29 September 2009 (EDT)
As for Denmark, I presume we are talking about the small towns on Zealand eh? they usually don't have a place to sleep, and hence disqualifies. I tend to put such listings in the largest nearest town, or breaking the MOS and putting them in lowest region article in the hierarchy. --Stefan (sertmann) Talk 19:02, 29 September 2009 (EDT)
I agree with with LtPowers that if there anything significant to see or do there, and it is more than just an attraction seen from another town, it should have its own article. If the town is an attraction best seen from another city, and there is nowhere to sleep thee, include the info in the neighboring city article. Regions should be summary articles, and not contain see and do information for towns without hotels. --inas 01:55, 30 September 2009 (EDT)


swept from pub:

Articles like these Great_Lakes, Japan Alps and Latin America are stubs. They are greater regions that overlap multiple regions. How to deal with them? How to turn them into outline status? I tried to make Latin America a disambiguation page, but I feel that's wrong, as these regions do not have the name Latin America. --globe-trotter 09:35, 7 June 2010 (EDT)

We have a number of such articles, and it is unreasonable to expect all of them to be fleshed out into full travel guides. We need a categorization similar to disambiguation pages to include this sort of extra-hierarchical region. (Some extra-hierarchical regions, like Navajo Nation, can support a full region article.) LtPowers 14:07, 7 June 2010 (EDT)
Our current disambiguation policy allows for these kind of articles to be disambiguation articles when they are extra-heirarchical - even if strictly speaking they are not disambiguating in the traditional (WP) sense. --inas 18:58, 7 June 2010 (EDT)
We don't have much of a consensus on how to treat these articles, as evidenced in numerous vfd discussions. While I don't want to comment on the Japan Alps for lack of knowledge, and the Great Lakes may be a bit of a pain to write, surely we could find something to say about Latin America in a full region article! --Peter Talk 22:50, 9 June 2010 (EDT)

7+-2 rule explanation[edit]

I just noticed that the external link to an explanation of the logic behind our 7+-2 rule is now broken, so I removed it. In searching for a replacement, I found mostly articles (including the Wikipedia article) that debunk the original theory we pointed to. Now, I would be very strongly against loosening or changing the guideline because we have to have limits for ease of patrolling and to prevent runaway lists, but I think it might be wise to rethink how we present our reasons for having this guideline. Are there any suggestions? texugo 04:29, 20 February 2011 (EST)

Hopefully someone can find a better URL (I searched but didn't see anything authoritative), but if not then the URL you provided seems about as good as any. Even if Miller's work has been somewhat misinterpreted, that article provides some background as to why 7+/-2 is as good of a cutoff as any, and why very long lists are bad things. -- Ryan • (talk) • 11:49, 20 February 2011 (EST)
The debunking seems to be related to the notion that lists of 7 are easy for humans to remember, but what we are concerned with is that lists are merely digestible.
In any rate, pages do not die, and we can just link to an archive [4]. --Peter Talk 16:36, 21 February 2011 (EST)

What is a region?[edit]

Discussion moved here from Wikitravel talk:Regions map Expedition#What is a region?:

I would like to raise a discussion about what a region article can be (this might not be the right place so please move if needed)

I have noticed that for some articles we have in the region section references to articles that are not really regions in the sense that these articles do not contain links to citites and/or other destinations but do contain listings. One example is Fiji, where we both have "real" regions like Viti Levu and Vanua Levu but also have the other kind of regions like Kadavu. Another example is Barbados, which is so small that it has been decided not to split it in regions, but the four lowest level articles are presented as regions and not as cities/other destinations

I do appriciate that our policies on this are not very clear, but I think they should be. This might so far primarily be an issue for some small countries, but will soon also be for many subregions as we move on to subregionalise further, therefore I believe it is important to take the discussion now

My suggestion is that we only use region articles for (and only put references from the region section to) articles containing links to cities and/or other destinations, implying that lowest level articles for eg small islands should be linked from other destinations and not from regions. That would for Fiji imply that some of the smaller islands would have to be grouped in a new region and linked from there (and from the country article) from the other destinations section. And for Barbados it would imply that the four links in regions should be moved to cities/other destinations sections. However, these are only examples and my purpose here is not to argue that these articles should be changed

Examples of lower level region articles following the principle suggested above are North Zealand and Montgomery County (Maryland) where we have links from cities and other destinations to articles covering an area rather than just one city

--ClausHansen 18:26, 3 August 2011 (EDT)

Yes, I have also been wondering about this lately. I used regions in the same sense as you have applied it, and as is shown in North Zealand, but I've seen others taking a different direction. This also seems to have troubled up the Papua New Guinea discussion, as I said Bougainville "is not a region" (as it is just one article), while Burmesedays thinks its a region. The discussion is not so much about being a region or not, but about how we present the lowest level regions: about whether we use the cities/OD category or the regions category. I have always applied it in the first sense, as I've done at Gooi and Vecht Region. --globe-trotter 18:54, 3 August 2011 (EDT)
This is a good question, and the time is ripe to answer it. For Montgomery County, MD, my intent has been to put all such articles under "Cities," by putting "Northern Montgomery County" under "Outer suburbs." But for Barbados, listing Western Barbados as a "city" would seem ludicrous, and listing Bridgetown as a "region" seems odd. Part of the problem is that I would want to keep the OD list at Montgomery County separate, since that is useful information and a different kind of information. Meanwhile, I would prefer the the essential divisions shown on the map are under one header, not spread across two or even three sections.
Maybe we need a new header title at the bottom level? Occasionally we relax the rules and allow "Towns" instead of "Cities" when the latter would seem ridiculous. Maybe the "Regions" header was a bad idea from the start, and we should use "Divisions" in all country/region articles? Hopefully someone else has a better answer to this question ;) --Peter Talk 20:41, 3 August 2011 (EDT)
Lots of good points. I suspect that the issue lies with the nomenclature. "Divisions" or "travel divisions" might solve it. Having a bottom level article as a region does not really irk me in the way that in seems to others. Indeed, having regionalised a number of countries which are dispersed island groupings, the bottom level region method has proved invaluable. But I do understand the objections.
Bougainville, which G-t mentions, is a good example. This was very much driven by the traveler-comes-first principle, rather than by our own administrative conventions. Yes it is a region with only one article (for now), but very much functions as a top level region. It is culturally and ethnically different from the rest of PNG, and it is a semi-autonomous region which is soon likely to be fully independent. Also a rather good very OtBP article, if I do say so myself :).
Claus and Peter give another type of example with Barbados. There was simply no other way to deal with that issue which I could think of. Pleas were made on the talk page for input on this.
By dealing with those specific examples in the way we did, we have avoided unnecessary extra layers of articles, and that has to be a good thing.--Burmesedays 21:45, 3 August 2011 (EDT)
I certainly do not argue for any extra layers of articles. I see now where we do not agree: I see no reason to insist on having the division shown on the map under one header, if the division consists of both cities and other destinations why not allow them to spread across two sections? In a number of huge city articles we even introduce new subsections (eg inner city, suburbs) which works fine. I am working on a more detailed colour coded map for North Zealand and I would not like to have to put all destinations under one header, which would mean that some cities would have to be in other destinations (or regions) or areas like Øresund Coast would have to be in cities, which both seems odd to me. To me, this is not a question of administrative conventions but about putting links to destinations in the section where the traveller would expect to find it. Changing the name of the section from region to eg division could be a solution for Barbados (and I guess could be for North Zealand if it is considered important to keep the colour coded division in one section). What bothers me about having a bottom level article as a region is that we then use regions for two very different things, which I expect will confuse the traveller. For eg Fiji this could be avoided by changing the regional structure, but for other bottom level regions I see no other solution than to allow the colour coded division to spread across two sections
I find the way we use regions and subregions to organise our destination fantastic, so I would not like to see it confused by using regions for other purposes than to split countries or higher level regions with too many cities/other destinations into subregions. Please reconsider if it is really important to keep colour coded division in one section as this to me seems to be the reason for all the problems here, --ClausHansen 01:53, 4 August 2011 (EDT)
For North Zealand, why not try what you are proposing and then we can see it in place? I think I am in agreement with what you suggest, but would love to see a working example before being sure.
For Fiji, I think the map is great, very clear, and the region plan is fine and immediately understandable. The alternative for island groups like this (and there are lot of them), is broader top level region articles which then feed to individual island sets, or (please God no) more sub-region articles before the traveller gets to what he is really interested in. That's similar to the issue which has held up regionalising PNG for so long. Whichever way you look at it, that approach involves a layer of region articles which the current Fiji plan (for example, there are many others) does not require.--Burmesedays 02:29, 4 August 2011 (EDT)

Yes, please see North Zealand when it is done. For Fiji and other, I do not suggest more layers of regions, rather less as some of the island groups could be handled in one article by group. Broader top level regions feeding to other destination articles is what I suggest to avoid the confusion of having the regions mixed up with links to other destination articles, and this will not increase the number of layers, --ClausHansen 03:50, 4 August 2011 (EDT)

After the Bahamas discussion, I think I now understand what you are proposing Claus. My apologies if I have been a bit slow on the uptake. It is really is just a question of nomenclature it seems. If your concern is purely that something termed a region should link to a region- templated article, and that others should be termed differently (eg division, area or whatever), I don't think I have an issue with that in principle, as long as all the sensibly divided travel areas are shown on the same country (region) map. --Burmesedays 10:09, 4 August 2011 (EDT)

I don't think this is the best place for this discussion. It is more than just mapmakers who will be interested in providing input. LtPowers 13:44, 4 August 2011 (EDT)

While true, the barn-raising work we do on the expedition has made us much more effective at trying to understand each other's point of view and coming quickly to new consensuses in a pragmatic fashion than found in policy discussions around the site ;P (We should move this discussion, but I'd like to get through just a few more points before moving to Wikitravel talk:Geographical hierarchy, since we're making so much progress).
I don't really agree that having articles listed under "regions" that actually use a city template will confuse casual readers, who honestly don't pay that much attention to our formats, since they are just looking for information. It only tends to confuse the editors actually working on the hierarchy, and I'm confident we can get more comfortable with this as we gain more experience. (For example, we no longer blink at using small city templates for small islands.) At the bottom level, we may need to allow a bit more flexibility. If the Bougainville article benefits from having a "cities" section, even if it does not have sub-destination city articles yet created, I see no reason to limit our options in handling it on a case-by-case basis.
I don't really have a problem with allowing the colour coded divisions to spread across two sections. My worry is summed up by Claus' comment, the confusion of having the regions mixed up with links to other destination articles. I'm not sure what the solution would be; perhaps I didn't understand? --Peter Talk 16:30, 4 August 2011 (EDT)
My point is that I see the way we use regions to split countries/higher level regions into subregions to be so fundamental for how we organise our destinations, that we should not use the region section for anything else. Or in other words: the region articles are so different from city/other destination articles that they should not be mixed in the same section. I do not see what the problem would be to insist on keeping the lowest level articles (with listings and stuff) in the city or other destination sections. I agree that we should not limit our options in handling these issues case-by-case, but I have not seen any cases yet, where it benefits contributors, map-makers or readers to mix regions with non-regions in the regions section. I have no problem with the use of city templates for small islands. And I find it acceptable to change the section names for cities and other destinations if it appears reasonable for any specific articles. I have no problems with allowing the Bougainville article to have a cities section, even if it does not have sub-destination city articles yet created, but I do not see why it has to be listed with the regions as long as it is not a region article. To sum it up, I am not against flexibility, but I do not see which problems linking to non-region articles from the region section solves, --ClausHansen 18:12, 4 August 2011 (EDT)
The problem with the way we've used regions is that they are in fact one article. Which doesn't make them regions, but makes them destinations. While it is all a bit a matter of linguistics, it is true that a traveller would expect multiple destinations to appear after clicking on a region link. Thus, when clicking Viti Levu under the regions section, an article appears that shows all the cities and destinations on that island. But under Viti Levu is Taveuni, another island, but it does not give any destination to choose as it is a bottom-level article. In that sense, it would be more coherent if all those bottom-level articles were grouped into 1 region that consists of not more than 9 island destinations.
The same thing came up in PNG, where clicking on Bougainville would not give the traveller any destinations to choose, while the Highlands give plenty of options. This doesn't seem to make for a coherent regional structure. For the countries in Africa I saw this as less of a problem, as only a few regions were created per country and eventually they would be filled up with new articles. --globe-trotter 21:24, 4 August 2011 (EDT)
Correct on Bougainville. There are other examples as well. With Bougainville, my desire was to write one full article which would be helpful to the traveller, and not an empty region article and then a series of half empty city articles. Works very well I think.
I do not think we should change country maps that make sense for the traveler purely for reasons of our desire for administrative tidiness. But, if the change merely involves nomenclature, then I am OK with that in principle as stated above. Peter brings up a good point though, and I do wonder whether any such changes of nomenclature will make our tidy minds happy, but may actually confuse the casual user even more? Will the user care if it XXX is termed a region or division or area?--Burmesedays 22:01, 4 August 2011 (EDT)

Agree that the user will not care much if the section is called region or division, and I do not think that we should ever change the name of the region section. I am just saying that we should not put anything in the region section which are not regions, and I still do not see how it helps the traveller that we do so when we have the perfectly suited sections cities and other destinations to list destinations (and those two sections I think we should rename when need be). And for Bougainville, I agree that the article works fine and that it would be a mistake to split it on a number of articles, but why do we need to link to it from the regions section when it is not a region?, --ClausHansen 02:21, 5 August 2011 (EDT)

I think we should debate Bougainville on the Bougainville page, but the reality remains - it is a region; completely autonomous, ethnically and culturally divorced from the rest of PNG, and likely to be an independent nation soon. The fact that it works best without a Wikitravel region template only offends our administrative sensibilities, and nothing else.
As far as changing nomenclature is concerned, I think Barbados is a much better example. I would suggest the four "regions" there could be renamed divisions (for example).
At Solomon Islands I already applied a similar approach using "Islands" terminology rather than "Regions". Guadalcanal is in fact a Wikitravel region, but the distinction would just cause confusion. --Burmesedays 03:15, 5 August 2011 (EDT)
I think I may not have gotten my concern across very well—here's a clear example (you may need to refresh to get the current maps to display...). I have divided Montgomery County MD up according to exact census boundaries, creating a comprehensive scheme with 13 divisions (that's a lot, but it would not make sense to add yet another layer of regions). The divisions consist of 12 cities and 1 large rural region comprised of countryside, farms, parklands, and small towns. The cities clearly all fit well in the "Cities" section; Rural Montgomery County less so. The ways to handle this that I see are:
1) List Rural MC under "Regions" and then the rest of the cities under "Cities." Pro: Rural MC is a region, regardless of the technical usage of that term on Wikitravel by a few dozen editors. Con: It would give the impression of an extra layer of hierarchy that does not exist.
2) List Rural MC under "Cities." Pro: This keeps all the divisions within one section; in fairness, Rural MC does cover a good number of what we call on Wikitravel "cities" (towns, really). Con: Rural MC is straightforwardly not "a city."
3) List Rural MC under "Other destinations." Pro: Avoids the confusion of putting it under "Regions" and the awkwardness of calling it a "city." Con: There are several valid, traditional Other destinations in that list, which will not be displayed on the map as divisions (they are represented as usual with the little blue squares), and this jars with the image of one lone color coded division in the middle of the list.
4) Rename the whole section as "Divisions," "Subdivisions," or something better (hopefully), and do away with the "Regions" and "Cities" headers. Pro: All cons listed above are avoided. Con: The header names suck.
Between the four options, it seems like the other participants in this discussion prefer #3, but my order of preference would be 2,4,3,1—I think the muddling of the actual other destinations with what is effectively a "rural district/bottom-level region" is pretty undesirable, both for purposes of intuitiveness and aesthetics. If we could come up with a better subheader title for this case (like "Islands" for, say, the Bahamas), I would then prefer 4. --Peter Talk 01:38, 6 August 2011 (EDT)
I quite like the idea of 4. Divisions is a bit dull, but it is a neutral word that seems to cover most eventualities. At Montgomery County (Maryland) for example, it would certainly work without any jarring.
For the Bahamas (lovely map by the way), Islands works perfectly, just as it does at Solomon Islands, and I am sure elsewhere. Some of those islands might be WT regions, some not, but they are certainly all islands.--Burmesedays 02:07, 6 August 2011 (EDT)
So we have four kind of articles (regions, cities, rural areas/islands/bottom-level areas, national parks) but only three sections (regions, cities, other destinations). One aspect of what we are discussing here is where to put in the areas, which do not seem to fit in anywhere. None of the possibilities appears perfect, I prefer 3 as other destinations intuitively can be expected to include different kind of articles, 2 could be ok too, 4 could work at times but has the further con that the list of citites will disappear, 1 appears undesirable. But why not get around this by introducing a new section for areas (or whatever we prefer to call it)? The other aspect is whether to accept mix of WT regions with WT non-regions in the same section, which I still think we should avoid whenever possible, as it makes it difficult to understand the regional structure for a certain country/region, --ClausHansen 07:03, 6 August 2011 (EDT)
Huh; I've never seen a bottom-level region treated like that before. See Orleans County (New York) for a bottom-level region that fits better with how I see them. Montgomery County (Maryland) looks more like a mid-level region with the coloring the way it is; it strikes me as unusual to use the regionlist template for a list of cities. LtPowers 10:03, 6 August 2011 (EDT)
It is probably the first time I have come across a colour coded bottom level region as well. But it does work well I think. Showing city boundaries can't be unhelpful.--Burmesedays 10:10, 6 August 2011 (EDT)
I do believe this is the first time this has been done, but it simply copies the way we have done huge city articles since we first tried such a division (without gaps or overlap) in Chicago. Our huge city guides took off after adopting that approach, to the point where I think the well developed ones (of which there are now quite a lot) are far more useful than any other guides, printed or online. I'm hoping that this could eventually be true for rural regions. Montgomery County, MD is probably not the most interesting region to start with, but it's one with which I'm familiar enough to push it to star status. --Peter Talk 09:02, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
Montgomery County is rural?? =) My concern would be setting a precedent that we do all bottom-level region articles that way. Such an approach wouldn't work well for Orleans County (New York), because the official administrative divisions are largely meaningless to the traveler. LtPowers 15:37, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
I think bottom level region articles should be looked at on a case-by-case basis. The Montgomery County approach helps resolve issues I've been having with some of the bottom level regions around Vancouver. There are a largish number of small communities that wouldn't be articles on their own, but taken in aggregate, make an article. The Okanagan Valley, on the other hand, has a smallish number of communities that have enough heft (generally) to be articles on their own, so the traditional bottom level approach would work. - Shaund 00:29, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
If we can come up with a good name for 4, that would be my preferred option. I thought "Destinations" could work (i.e., combining Regions, Cities and Other Destinations), although I could see it creating long lists. After that, my preferred options are 3, then 2, and then 1. Shaund 12:01, 6 August 2011 (EDT)

Since the Expedition has come to some sort of weak resolution to this question, I'm moving it to Wikitravel talk:Geographical hierarchy for further debate (if anyone is interested). --Peter Talk 06:29, 14 August 2011 (EDT)

The discussion touched on a lot of issues; what specific questions remain open? LtPowers 09:40, 14 August 2011 (EDT)
Basically these:
1) At the bottom level, how do we categorize an aggregated area (e.g., a rural area with some small towns, some unincorporated suburban area, etc.). If it is an island, that is clear, but if it is effectively a "region," then what. Some suggest putting these under "Other destinations," but that then splits the essential "divisions" of the region across two categories ("Cities" and "Other destinations) and potentially jumbles up the divisions with "more traditional" other destinations, including links to see sections of articles. Others suggest we use a different header altogether, like "Divisions," "Districts," or something hopefully better. My longish comment above about Montgomery County (Maryland) (I think I may not have gotten my concern across very well...) offers a decent example of this problem.
2) Is it OK for us to refer to an area as a "region" if it is not a WT-style "region" with subdivisions of cities, ODs, and/or subregions? Bougainville is in common parlance clearly a "region," which does contain subregions, cities, etc., but is not subdivided on Wikitravel into further divisions. Does its article template/Wikitravel function make it unsuitable to be listed under the "Regions" section of Papua New Guinea?
I think those are the questions that have only been half-resolved. --Peter Talk 19:32, 14 August 2011 (EDT)
I think we should call things what they are, though it may be best to avoid the word "region" if a particular location is not a Wikitravel hierarchical region. We already explicitly allow the renaming of "Cities" to whatever fits best. If that's "Cities and islands", "Civil divisions", or "Random groupings of hamlets" then so be it. Bougainville is an island and its article is a destination guide, not a region in the hierarchy, so call it an island. (Okay, it's actually a grouping of islands, but I think the point remains.) LtPowers 21:54, 14 August 2011 (EDT)
I think in principle that is a clear guideline. How would you envisage handling it in a region table like the one below for PNG? Should the divisions be split into two sections, Regions and Islands? And how do we define each? Some of the islands use a region template and some don't.
Map of PNG with regions colour-coded
--Burmesedays 22:18, 14 August 2011 (EDT)

I'm still confused as to why it would be necessary to make this fudge, but maybe people would feel more comfortable with this:


Offshore islands

Still and all, Bougainville is a region of PNG, regardless of the nuances of its current Wikitravel article template... I can't imagine why a reader would be confused by calling it a region. --Peter Talk 23:48, 14 August 2011 (EDT)

I am flip-flopping a bit on this. As stated a long way back in this discussion, I too am concerned that we are making changes for the benefit of our own tidiness rather than for the traveler. On the other hand, I don't want to stand in the way of reaching consensus, as this is an issue which clearly irks some editors. --Burmesedays 00:24, 15 August 2011 (EDT)
Also this got me thinking about region divisions at a higher level. For example, with North America, Canada, Greenland, Mexico and the United States are not strictly regions are they? So would that regionlist have to be split into Countries (those 4) and Regions (Caribbean and Central America)? A very large can of worms is starting to open.--Burmesedays 00:39, 15 August 2011 (EDT)
I cannot see the second grouping solves anything, it still mixes regions and non-regions in the same list. Further it implies that the reigions do not cover the whole country. It appears to be difficult to put Bougainville into any subregion (it does not have enough content to allow its own region; and a region like outlying islands or something would be difficult to write). Maybe our policy could be that listed in regions should only be WT regions except in the rare situations where it is not possible to organise a remote island into any region. This could either be presented as the existing regions list or as presented below. I find that both solutions are undesirable and should be avoided if possible

Regarding North America: this has always bothered me, but I have not addressed it as I have no other suggestions

--ClausHansen 00:44, 15 August 2011 (EDT)

What I still really do not understand is what is confusing about the original list presented by Burmesdays. Why are we jumping through hoops? What is confusing about including Bougainville as a region of PNG, when it is a region of PNG? It is both a region in the plain English language sense, and in the Wikitravel sense of being a subdivision of a larger region. Ditto countries—countries are regions—a certain type of region.
Who is being confused by this? Is there an interlinguistic problem? --Peter Talk 01:03, 15 August 2011 (EDT)
The more this discussion evolves, the more I am thinking that things should stay as they are. The confusion only seems to be apparent with WT editors. I think that users will understand perfectly well what a region is, regardless of the Wikitravel template used. --Burmesedays 01:33, 15 August 2011 (EDT)
The problem is that Bougainville could be considered a region in the traditional sense, but it is not a region on Wikitravel because it does not contain any destinations linked from it. A traveler would expect a region to contain linked destinations, instead of it being a destination itself. The discussion here is about our definition of a region: is it a large piece of land or is it a container that functions as an umbrella for underlying destinations? I've always used it in the latter sense. --globe-trotter 12:41, 15 August 2011 (EDT)
I'm not sure the average reader knows that "a region is a container that functions as an umbrella for underlying destinations." That's how we define an article that uses the Region template, but I don't think the "Regions" section heading was ever meant to mean exclusively "articles with a region template". LtPowers 08:59, 16 August 2011 (EDT)

The basic problem here is that we now are entering a phase in the evolution of the site where we get regions that have unbalanced subdivisions. If you imagine our hierarchy as a tree, our destination guides are "leaf nodes" -- or nodes in the tree that have nothing "below" them. Our article templates were designed under the assumption that all subnodes of a particular article are either leaf nodes or not leaf nodes, but here in PNG we have a case where some subnodes are leaf nodes and some are not.

The way I see it, there are two main routes we could go to resolve this: 1) loosen our strict hierarchy-based article templates to allow for different types of subnodes, or 2) group all of the leaf nodes together into a region.

-- LtPowers 08:59, 16 August 2011 (EDT)

That's an extremely helpful explanation of where we find ourselves. One thing I am sure of is that nobody other than WT editors will expect a region article to necessarily lead to other destination articles. --Burmesedays 09:30, 16 August 2011 (EDT)
Uh oh, I'm a WT editor who doesn't necessarily expect a region article to lead to other destination articles. But I do agree with Burmesedays' sentiment. Of LtPowers' two options, I prefer (1) for a couple of reasons. One, I think it better reflects the messy reality of the world (Bougainville is a good example). Two, I think the rigid hierarchy will cause us to create region pages just for the sake of having a container -- which I don't think is clear or helpful to the traveller (an example of this would be creating an Offshore Islands region just to deal with Bougainville). -Shaund 14:15, 17 August 2011 (EDT)
Not necessarily, if we follow the precedent for Continental Sections on the Europe page -- note that we group Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey on the map and in the regionlist, but there is no Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey page. Maybe a similar approach would work for the outlying islands of PNG? LtPowers 15:11, 17 August 2011 (EDT)
That's true -- I did the same thing to deal with New Zealand's offshore islands -- and maybe it will work for PNG (I don't know much about PNG so I'll leave that to those who know better). But I'm not sure if that approach will work in all situations. For example, one of British Columbia's top-level regions can be broken down into three subregions, two that fit the WT definition of a region and one that would probably be a destination guide (large land area with a few hamlets that have stores while the activities/attractions are in parks and ranches in the middle of nowhere). I imagine there are other situations too, so I'd still like to see some flexibility in how regions are defined. -Shaund 21:59, 17 August 2011 (EDT)


I attempted to add information on "Other divisions" to the policy article, and am hoping that I struck a note acceptable (if not perfectly in step with) the fairly diverse opinions in this and other discussions. If it seems objectionable, please help come up with a better compromise-ish version here, so we can change it for the better. --Peter Talk 11:49, 30 September 2011 (EDT)

Regional hierarchy[edit]

Swept in from the pub

How do we handle the situation where a region straddles more than one state? E.g. Harz is currently subordinate to the state of Saxony-Anhalt, yet the western half lies in Lower Saxony and there is even a small area in the state of Thuringia. This leads to a problem with towns in the Harz, like Braunlage, looking as if they are in Saxony-Anhalt, when in fact they are in Lower Saxony. --SaxonWarrior 16:39, 11 June 2011 (EDT)

Whew, there are a lot of convoluted discussions I could link to answer this, but let me summarize and see if anyone takes issue:
Treat Harz as an extra-hierarchical article. In other words, direct the breadcrumbs around it. Have Braunlage, while linking elsewhere in the article to Harz, direct to Lower Saxony. So: {{isPartOf|Lower Saxony}} instead of {{isPartOf|Harz}} (sorry if I'm over-explaining). --Peter Talk 17:52, 11 June 2011 (EDT)
Wikitravel:Geographical hierarchy#Overlap has details. In general try to avoid regions that span multiple parent regions except in rare cases (and this may be one). -- Ryan • (talk) • 23:24, 11 June 2011 (EDT)
The Eifel region straddles both North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. I have solved this problem by calling the area in NRW North Eifel and the area in RL-P South Eifel, making the Eifel page a disambiguation. The same idea could be applied to the Harz, making the pages Upper Harz and Lower Harz. --globe-trotter 08:38, 12 June 2011 (EDT)
That might work for the Harz (ignoring Thuringia) if the boundaries fit - I'll have a look at that. However, there is the risk elsewhere, I guess, of creating non-standard terms and regions simply to fit a Wiki format. "Ore Mountains" is another one: it straddles the German-Czech border. --SaxonWarrior 07:29, 14 June 2011 (EDT)
Forcing awkward regions to fit our own structure is what we really should avoid. We need to have an unbroken breadcrumb trail leading back up the hierarchy from the bottom, but it's not a problem to have additional extra-hierarchical region articles that provide another way of understanding an area. This is something that sometimes trips up the people (us) doing the organization, but is very unlikely to confuse readers if done properly. --Peter Talk 09:47, 14 June 2011 (EDT)

Policy/convention question - hierarchy-related[edit]

Swept in from the pub

So, the question has come up regarding why we tend to divide regions into strict subregions, rather than allowing (as a matter of course) subregions to have multiple parent regions. Of course, we have for some time now allowed occasional exceptions where it would be perverse not to -- Lake Tahoe, for instance. But it seems to me that in general, we prefer subregions to be entirely contained within a single parent region.

The problem is that I can't find this convention clearly written down anyway. Wikitravel:Geographical hierarchy certainly implies it to me, but apparently not to everyone. Is there something I'm missing here?

-- LtPowers 13:51, 26 August 2011 (EDT)

The Wikitravel:Geographical hierarchy#Overlap section was meant to cover overlapping regions, although perhaps it needs more detail? The three most relevant sentences of that section would be "If we have overlapping guides, readers don't know where to go to get travel information, and contributors don't know where to put travel information. It's also easier to draw maps for a destination if none of the parts of the destination overlap... No two regions at the same level of the hierarchy should overlap." -- Ryan • (talk) • 13:59, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
Yeah, but we're not talking about overlap, but rather one region with two parents. So the cities on, say the west side of a county are in one superregion while the cities on the east side are in a different superregion -- but we have the county as a whole as a single region article with both superregion articles as parents. There's technically no overlap between "two regions at the same level". LtPowers 14:32, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
I think that's the same issue though - the county overlaps two parent regions. Lake Tahoe and Russia are obvious examples of where this rule is broken, and Wikitravel:Geographical hierarchy covers that case, but per the existing guidelines: "...if a subregion is commonly understood as belonging to more than one parent region... it is perfectly fine to list it in both parent regions as long as this does not create significant content overlap. A region's breadcrumb trail, however, will display only a single parent region in a strict hierarchical fashion." If that guidance is being understood as a broad permission to create non-hierarchical regions rather than a rare exception I'd be in favor of updating the policies to make it clearer that overlapping regions should be a rarity in order to make it easier to keep the site organized. -- Ryan • (talk) • 15:37, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
There are several issues here that are getting muddled together under the notion of a "strict hierarchy/strict subregions" (I have no idea what that really means).
1) The way we prevent unhelpful overlap is to create a hierarchy that—at each level of the hierarchy—there are no gaps nor overlap. This is a simple enough rule to follow, and is useful to prevent the problem of people not sure where to put information (this is far more important at the bottom level, where we have actual listings, rather than creative descriptions and interpretations of various regions).
2) Single parents. This has been discussed several times, and the verdict both in discussion and the policy article itself has always been that, while single parents can do an excellent job, it never hurts to have two. Russia provides an elucidating example. It clearly belongs to both Asia and Europe, and to omit it from either continent article in pursuit of some vague parochial notion would be absurd. This does not create any significant problems of overlap, however, as the boundaries at each level of the hierarchy are defined: Europe and Asia are bounded by the Urals, Russia's official borders separate it from neighboring regions and countries. The only real problem is with our breadcrumb navigation, and this is a problem ideally solved via a technical solution, which would allow us to create a breadcrumb trail for Vladivostok (for example) that would navigate back to Asia, not Europe.
3) New York's regional division should be tweaked anyway, to do away with artificial county borders when they are formed in ways that are not helpful to travelers.
4) Non-hierarchical regions. These actually have nothing to do with what LtPowers is discussing. --Peter Talk 16:42, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
(edit conflict) Well, the issue in question is Ulster County, which a new user would like to split between Hudson Valley and Catskills. And that's fine; our regions don't have to follow county boundaries. The problem is that he seems to want a single Ulster County article with two parents -- Hudson Valley for the eastern part and Catskills for the western part. While this sort of thing is allowed (Lake Tahoe is not in both Nevada and California simultaneously, after all; it's partly in Nevada and partly in California), I don't think it's the best option in this case. If Ulster County is to be split between two regions, we should keep it split. And I don't think the "overlap" section of the hierarchy policy page addresses that case. LtPowers 16:48, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
Is there a pointer to the discussion that "Single parents. This has been discussed several times, and the verdict both in discussion and the policy article itself has always been that, while single parents can do an excellent job, it never hurts to have two" ??? My impression has always been that this should be a rarity, and is only done in cases where it would be confusing NOT to do it - for example, claiming that Russia is in Asia only, or that Lake Tahoe is solely in California. In all other cases we generally try to come up with structures that are very hierarchical, and use disambiguation pages where that doesn't work (example: Knowledge Corridor). No? -- Ryan • (talk) • 17:31, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
Talk:Turkey#Who.27s_your_daddy.3F and Wikitravel_talk:Geographical_hierarchy#Single_parents are what I find right away. Wikitravel_talk:Geographical_hierarchy#Extra-hierarchical_regions is tangential, but still worthwhile reading. Bill's last comment especially.
Knowledge Corridor was created as a disambiguation page for an article which we did not feel met our article criteria—it's not really a travel region at all and does not merit an article. (For this reason, I didn't see why we needed the disambiguation page at all.) The argument, as I understood it, was that it might anyway be helpful with navigation. But again, this is a different issue from the question of parenthood—multiple parents is a way of having more intuitive indexing of our articles.
As an aside, I think we organizers sometimes get a little too wrapped up in the desire for internal neatness, possibly at the expense of intuitiveness and generally helpful organization for the reader. John's comment—"I've spent a significant fraction of my life dealing professionally with geographic data architecture, and I don't think it's arrogant to assert that I know a lot about what does and does not work -- and an arborescence doesn't"—is a stronger statement than I would make, but the basic point that geographical reality does not always conform to a perfect tree structure, and it thus can be counterproductive to try and force it, if our real goal is to produce travel content and navigation that is intuitive and commonsensical.
Lastly, lets really keep in mind Bill's comment in all of these situations: WTP? Because it's rarely clear to me. --Peter Talk 17:53, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
(Re-indenting) Re: WTP - the most significant is the breadcrumb trails, and given the current site ownership that seems unlikely to ever be fixed; currently it's misleading to see Siberia listed under Europe in the breadcrumb. The second is map-making: an occasional extra-hierarchical region is fine, but in any significance they can turn messy. I don't know that this is a desire for "internal neatness" rather than an attempt to be clear and consistent.
That said, I'm still not sure whether you're proposing anything different from what LtPowers and I seem to be arguing: that extra-hierarchical regions be used only when it would make less sense NOT to use them. Turkey, Russia, Lake Tahoe and the Navajo Nation are all travel destinations and clearly-defined regions, and splitting them up for hierarchical purposes would be absurd. However, Ulster County may not make sense as a travel region and might thus make more sense as a disambiguation page, thus preserving a clear hierarchy. Does that make sense? Or are you proposing that extra-hierarchical regions aren't really something that we need to be trying to avoid where possible? -- Ryan • (talk) • 19:29, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
I was more arguing that we are not talking about extra-hierarchical regions :P (And agreed, the one real problem is with breadcrumbs, but it would be a shame to let our tech mismanagement force us to fit our content and content organization to a bad technical set up.) But if we are going to discuss extra-hierarchical regions, then yes, I don't think they are so scary. Since they are extra-hierarchical, there is no reason to put them on the regions maps, since their purpose is just to better explain a real travel region, not for the purpose of navigating the hierarchy. I'll go back to my usual example of Great Lakes. It's not a part of our hierarchy, but it's a nice article to have, and does no harm that I can see. The Chesapeake Bay article is a lot less well developed and messy, but it seems obvious that we would want an article about it (I personally would certainly benefit read a well-developed travel article about it), and again, it's not doing any harm listed as an Other Destination. In that conversation linked above, I suggested calling such articles "travel topics," which presumably wouldn't offend anyone's organizational sensibilities, but that would just be us falling into a sort of parochial overthinking—the Great Lakes is a region. --Peter Talk 19:37, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
So do you think we should have an Ulster County article and a (say) Eastern Catskills article that covers the same geographic area as the western part of Ulster County? That seems even worse than just having a single Ulster County article as a subregion of both Hudson Valley and Catskills. LtPowers 22:37, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
No, I do not. --Peter Talk 22:48, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
Okay, then I guess I'm looking for a policy or guideline that I can point to to explain why we don't want an Ulster County article if it's split between two regions. LtPowers 10:06, 27 August 2011 (EDT)
The problem is the use of counties in New York (state) as regions, while counties don't match up with travelers' geography. --globe-trotter 11:11, 27 August 2011 (EDT)
(Edit conflict-- I was expounding on the same point:)
I'd say the question is mainly "should we even have all these county articles at all?" We eliminated them from most other states long ago, and even after all this time, New York's county articles are still not in good shape. All but one of New York's top level regions currently break down into counties (total of 45 mentioned), but almost half of them (21) are still red links, and the majority of the ones that have been created contain little more than a city list. Certainly if these counties are not the most useful way for us to divide the territory, and if they don't even match up with the parent regions (see Finger Lakes for yet 3 more cases of counties overlapping multiple parent regions), then I think we need to stop insisting on using them as regions at all. texugo 12:02, 27 August 2011 (EDT)
I don't have any knowledge of these particular cases, but I suspect the issue is as pointed out by Globe-trotter and Texugo. New York State is a 2nd level region of the US. Then New York State is split into a further 9 third level regions, and then there are 45 bottom level regions (or counties). So a second level region (a state) has spawned a further 54 region articles. Surely, that can't be the right way to go.--burmesedays 12:37, 27 August 2011 (EDT)
We're getting off-topic here. Counties were used as a convenient way to measure where region boundaries should go, but we deviate from them where necessary (as with Finger Lakes). With Niagara Frontier, I felt that county boundaries (with one county split in half) was the best way to organize the region. Other than that, we list counties a) because most NY regions haven't been otherwise subdivided yet, and b) because many of the counties mostly have their own tourism organizations and web sites, making them fairly convenient as travel regions.
But the issue here is that we have a user who wants to place information in the Ulster County article while insisting that the county be both in the Catskills region and in the Hudson Valley region. He said he read Wikitravel:Geographical hierarchy and that the "Overlap" section validated his plan by allowing multiple parent regions. My contention is that it should be avoided where possible, but I don't have any policy document to point to. LtPowers 13:41, 27 August 2011 (EDT)
I think John seemed amenable to retooling the hierarchy? While this discussion has been interesting, I don't think this particular matter is as much a matter of policy as it is a matter of rethinking the particulars of the NY state divisions. --Peter Talk 21:59, 27 August 2011 (EDT)
The problem is that the county was only listed as being in the Catskills region, while a part of it also lies in the Hudson Valley. Thus, the user got confused when looking at the Hudson Valley page and not seeing the county listed there. For this situation, two parent regions are necessary as the county spans two tourist regions. This is possible and done before, such as with the Harz Mountains in Germany, a region with both Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt as parent regions. The only problem with this is the breadcrumb trail, but there is no real solution for that (and probably not anytime soon). In the New York case it would be even better if these counties were eliminated at all, and turned into tourist regions (and it seems like the Hudson Valley needs to be reconsidered, as the region on Wikitravel looks out of touch with the map at the NY tourist board [5]. Also the Metro New York region is problematic, and probably needs to be an extra-hierarchical region or be left out altogether as it spans multiple states). --globe-trotter 01:11, 29 August 2011 (EDT)
None Only one of our New York regions matches the state's tourism site. I didn't realize that was a problem... it's never been a problem before. LtPowers 21:47, 29 August 2011 (EDT)
Obviously the regional scheme doesn't have to match those of the tourist board. But I think some changes could be made, especially to the Hudson Valley and Metro New York (and maybe also cut off Long Island east of New York as tourism there is of a different nature than in the big city). County borders could help in some of these divisions, but are confusing in others (such as the Hudson Valley). --globe-trotter 22:05, 29 August 2011 (EDT)

How to deal with villages[edit]

Swept in from the pub

I wonder where do we really list villages or rural areas. Do we place them under the "cities" list or under the list of "other destinations"? In South Limburg this has become a problem, where small villages are listed in "other destinations" while the bigger towns are listed under "cities". The same logic is applied at North Zealand. However, I believe the Other Destinations section was originally aimed at destinations like national parks, ruins or other geographical features like canyons and volcanoes. How should we deal with this? --globe-trotter 17:36, 5 August 2011 (EDT)

If a village has its own article, I would put it under cities. But if an articles covers several villages or a rural area, I would put it under other destinations, --ClausHansen 17:56, 5 August 2011 (EDT)
Yes, the MOS allows the "Cities" heading to change to whatever is necessary to describe the communities listed therein -- but whatever you call it, all communities go in there. LtPowers 18:56, 5 August 2011 (EDT)
I'm sorry, that was my mistake, I confused up the titles. I meant to use "Other towns and villages", like Burmesedays suggested on [[Talk:Limburg(Netherlands) and like he did in Central_Java. I'll change that now. For South Limburg, putting all the villages under cities would be far to many. The area has 18 municipalities and tens of villages, most of which have several options to stay and eat since it is a touristic region. And then I'm not even talking of all the hamlets, which in some cases meet the article criteria too.
Now, South Limburg lists only the largest towns (under cities) and most interesting (arguably, of course) other settlements. I was in fact wondering what would be ideal. I do think it is most useful for a traveler to have an idea of which towns are the more interesting ones, with a link there. But what is the policy? Should a regional article ideally have all the settlements linked? Splitting up into regions might seem good from a "systemic" point of view, but really isn't from a travelers one (as discussed on Talk:Limburg too). The South Limburg region as a whole is commonly and broadly regarded as "one" travelers destination so a solid overview article with pointers on where to go seems best. However, the whole "cities" header is more a systemic functionality, as a place like Geleen or Heerlen is less interesting than some of the tiny places around. Justme 19:34, 5 August 2011 (EDT)
Twelve (which is the number of communities listed on South Limburg) is around the point where we like to see a region subdivided into subregions. But if there's really no good way to do so, twelve is probably a tolerable number (we prefer five to nine). But however you do it, they all go under the same heading. You could, if it's really useful to the traveler, have two lists under that heading, each alphabetized individually. LtPowers 20:29, 5 August 2011 (EDT)
Here is an example of how a grouping of villages can be treated as an Other destination. At Bali you will see Amed listed as an OD. The Amed article covers 7 villages along a 14 km strip of coastline.--Burmesedays 20:46, 5 August 2011 (EDT)
Ah, looks good. Quite similar as I have done for Wijdemeren at Gooi and Vecht Region. South Limburg could easily be turned into a couple further subdivisions as shown by the tourist board. --globe-trotter 22:28, 5 August 2011 (EDT)
Well, splitting up is an option, although.that is a rather arbitrary thing, with the Tourist board having their own version. For them, it is just a further split with all info also directly available through their main portal. Since the region /as a whole/ is the destination for most people (it's just a 20 x 20 km stretch with some millions of tourists spending the night each year), I do think the main South Limburg article should list the most interesting places across any subregions.
It's not 12 communities, that's just the ones I believe are most interesting, plus the largest ones. However, it now does /not/ list all (18) municipalities. A place like Epen is a popular destination and should be mentioned in South Limburg, but it's not a municipality of its own. I don't think this region is comparable really to Wijdemeren or Amed. South Limburg is highly touristic, with many village receiving so many people that they have a tourist office of their own. A place like Valkenburg has some 6000 inhabitants but 1.2 million tourist overnight stays per year and millions of visitors for the day. Justme 06:28, 6 August 2011 (EDT)
I would suggest you finish the article, adding every place that you think warrants it, and then it can be re-assessed.--Burmesedays 06:33, 6 August 2011 (EDT)

Weak regions[edit]

The vast, overwhelming majority of our region articles have failed to develop beyond bleak outlines containing links to cities and other regions. User:Gorilla Jones remarked to me a long while back that the weirdest thing about reading our guides is starting at a well developed country article, then moving down the hierarchy through several virtually empty garbage articles sprinkled with the occasional spam listing or vandal poo, and arriving at a brilliant huge city guide of a higher quality than any printed guide.

Why do our region guides suck? What do we need to improve our site with regards to them? Anyone like to join a brainstorm? --Peter Talk 22:46, 25 April 2012 (EDT)

Because no one cares about region articles as a destination? There is a lot to write about countries. When a state or province is a well-known and well-defined destination, you can write quite a bit about them. But the overwhelming majority of regions are there only because they serve as placeholders to put cities in. For example, Western India or North Goa are hardly well-defined destinations. Very difficult to write about them. In many cases, they do nothing except make navigation even more confusing. The Goa hierarchy, for example, is a mess. Also, sorting it out requires someone who actually knows the place intimately and is willing to spend quality time on administrative stuff rather than about travel experiences, which is the kind of combination that is hard to find. Ravikiran 01:10, 26 April 2012 (EDT)
This is a bit of a brain spew resulting from a long try at formulating a coherent thought. Given that caveat, I think all good destination articles (region or city) on the site should answer two questions:
  1. Where should a traveler spend her time?
  2. What are the logistics for visiting a destination?
For the most part, the answers to those two questions are currently found in city and park articles, and the headings address them - "Get in" and "Get around" are for logistics, while "See", "Do", "Buy", "Eat", "Drink", "Sleep" and "Get out" typically answer the "where to spend your time" question. At the city level this isn't a very subjective exercise - the Dr. Seuss museum goes in the "Do" section of the article in which it is located, end of story.
The vision for the perfect region article is that it will provide an overview of regional highlights, but "regional highlight" is an ambiguous and subjective term, so regions end up empty or filled with vague generalities that are usually of little utility to a traveler. Given that, it seems that the goal should be to provide a useful navigation hierarchy that simultaneously answers the two questions above without requiring a lot of subjectivity.
One option might be to re-think some region articles as primarily navigational aids. In order to address the two questions above, these region articles would focus on the child regions or cities as their main content and provide much more detail than is currently done in the descriptions. A minimal template might look something like:
== Understand ==

<!-- history, culture, and other useful background info -->

== Regions ==

<!-- map and the current Regionlist template go here -->

=== Sub-Region 1 ===

<!-- 1-4 paragraphs about this sub-region.  why go here? -->

=== Sub-Region 2 ===

<!-- 1-4 paragraphs about this sub-region.  why go here? -->

<!-- continue with remaining sub-regions -->

== Get in ==

<!-- what are the entry points to this region -->

== Get around ==

<!-- what are the main transportation routes for this region? -->

== Nearby ==

<!-- because "Get out" is a terrible heading -->
If there is a specific reason to add additional headings then that could be done (for example, if there is a special regional cuisine then an "Eat" section might make sense), but this proposal would reflect the fact that most regions on Wikitravel are navigational aids, and would at the same time provide additional information to help users decide what to visit in those regions.
Final caveat: this is just a brain dump, for discussion only. I wouldn't propose changing the definition of a core concept on Wikitravel based on an hour's musing, but hopefully it will provide useful fodder for brainstorming purposes. -- Ryan • (talk) • 01:15, 26 April 2012 (EDT)
I think good region articles are hard to write. As Ravikiran and Ryan mentioned, it's fairly easy to add content to a City article (and Country articles). A region article will aggregate and summarize the highlights of the guides below it in the hierarchy. This requires a good understanding of the region, making subjective decisions and actually writing. That said, I think good region guides are important for travellers who are looking to move around and see more than just the main cities.
Not sure how to deal with this though (it's too late for me to think right now). Probably something similar to what Ryan mentioned, although I'd want to see the main cities/towns covered and why someone would want to travel there. -Shaund 01:33, 26 April 2012 (EDT)
I agree with Ryan's idea. In addition, in cases where some regions serve only to provide a hierarchy, they should be rolled up to the main article. Coming back to North Goa, given that there is nothing worth writing in the understand, get in or get out sections that isn't already covered in the Goa article or in the individual beach articles, we shouldn't have a North Goa article. We should just sub-section the "Regions" section of Goa and list everything right there.
In addition, I propose that this distinction be entirely fluid. Let's say that you have a state with one well-defined region that has a lot to write about, and a vast and remote hinterland we don't anticipate writing much about. It should be entirely acceptable to create an article only for that region and have no article for the hinterland. — Ravikiran 02:09, 26 April 2012 (EDT)
Disorganized thoughts:
I think region articles are incredibly useful, as the starting point for travel planning, unfortunately! I've also noticed non-WT-savvy friends immediately gravitating towards our regions for answers, not finding them, and then figuring there must be nothing underneath.
The most important purpose a region article should ideally serve, I think, is to identify priorities in the region—how to choose between the linked destinations for your next clicks. Capital Region (Maryland) is a good example of what I think would be ideal for a fairly bland region, with a quick overview of where you will find what.
Right now, we do that by breaking down information into our standard see/eat/buy/drink/sleep sections, but maybe we could reduce the lot of them to a section called "Highlights," or something like that? Or just generally relax the template, since no one seems interested in filling the sections out?
I find that these articles are in a way exceptionally easy to write, since the various sections do not require much work—just mention a few of the towns with the most accommodations options, and you have a sleep section. The difficulty, though, is that most of our army of anon contributors are adding small bits of specific knowledge, while to write region article sections, you need to be familiar with all or at least the most important of the region's sub-destinations. Our collaborative model is less successful here, since each region will need someone with a certain amount of expertise. I can't think of any solution to that problem other than to grow our base of regular users.
The other big obstacle to improving our region guides is just that we have so few good examples. New contributors will go through our site for days before running into a good, basic region article, most of which are either in Maryland or Bali... Thus, directionless contributors toss in little bits and pieces of information into the region outlines, which don't ever add up to decent prose, and generally just make the article more muddled.
Whatever we do decide here, I'd like to see us trying a range of ideas, and looking for more flexibility, rather than a one-size-fits-all solution, at least to start. Allowing a little creativity to be put to work might eventually point to the solution. --Peter Talk 03:48, 26 April 2012 (EDT)
I have long felt that the primary problem is finding someone with knowledge of the entire region to write the darn articles. I've been trying to work on Finger Lakes for quite some time, but I've never been to most of the destinations in the region. It's hard for me to provide an overview of the highlights without that personal experience. But someone else intimately familiar with, say, Ithaca, might never have been to Letchworth State Park.
I would be curious to know what you think of the Finger Lakes article as it stands. The See, Do, Eat, and Sleep sections still need work, and I'm in the process of subdividing it into four subregions (as you can see in the Cities section), but is the scope and tone appropriate as it stands? LtPowers 14:21, 26 April 2012 (EDT)
I think the Finger Lakes article illustrates the problem, to some extent. The "Eat" and "Sleep" sections contain single listings that should probably be removed and replaced with... what? The Drink section is OK, but it's a wine producing region - most regions probably won't have much to say there. The best part of this article is probably the "Cities" section, and I say that mostly because there are descriptions of each pseudo-sub-region in that section that provide some way to differentiate between them. However, there is then little or no information for each city to aid a reader in determining whether or not that is a city they should investigate.
Regarding the comment "It's hard for me to provide an overview of the highlights without that personal experience", I think that's the core of the problem. An individual can write about their favorite restaurant or museum, but the number of people with broad enough knowledge to cite the highlights within a region is minimal and requires a massive amount of subjectivity. While ideally a region with an overview of highlights should be something to strive for, the reality is that it will probably be the exception rather than the rule for the near future.
Final note: the above is not in any way meant to criticize the work LtPowers did on the article, but more as an example of how for even an article that has received significant attention we may not do a good job at either "region as overview" or "region as navigational aid". As noted earlier, my opinion is that failure is probably due to the current region concept/template, and not due to a lack of contributors or a lack of effort from those contributors. -- Ryan • (talk) • 18:15, 27 April 2012 (EDT)