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Wikitravel talk:Illegal activities policy

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Illegal activities policy?[edit]

Should we have a policy about listing/promoting Illegal activities? Recently I have noticed a number of article contributions describing illegal or dangerous activities and related inappropriate subjects. Some of these contributions have been removed or changed by others, but we do not have a general policy on this area other than a Sex tourism policy. What is our standard? Where do we draw the line? -- Huttite 20:42, 7 May 2004 (EDT)

I did one of the edits Huttite is talking about -- I removed a reference to marijuana quality from Vancouver. Speaking as a law-abiding non-drug user, I think we should have a policy against mentioning drugs (and other activities) in places where they are illegal. But that is not why I removed the marijuana reference. I felt that saying Vancouver had good pot was a lot like saying it had blue skies -- it's subjective and irrelevant for most travellers.
Are there any illegal activities we do need to mention? When the speed limit was in the US was 55 mph, driving just 55 was unsafe in some areas, and would have been a good thing to mention. Are there any more serious examples of illegal activities that we need to mention? -- Colin 14:10, 8 May 2004 (EDT)
I'm wondering whether pointing out an illegal activity (by the way, isn't pot smoking decriminalized in Canada) is advocating or promoting it. I think there's a fine line to walk. Of course, putting travellers in jeopardy by telling them that it's just fine to do illegal things is wrong. --Evan 12:51, 22 May 2004 (EDT)
I wouldn't say that just simply pointing out an illegal activity is wrong, unless you don't mention that it's illegal (e.g. "Lots of people jaywalk in Taipei."). I agree with your statement: it's irresponsible to suggest that an illegal activity is OK, regardless of how 'accepted' it may be by the locals. If anything the articles should point out (and suggest not engaging in) illegal activities that carry penalties that are heavier than the 'typical' penalty, such as chewing gum in Singapore, smuggling drugs into Thailand, etc.. -- Sohcahtoa 08:43, 2004 May 23 (EDT)
I think there are a number of circumstances where there is a definite need to mention illegal activities. Case in point is hash / dope / opium smoking in Morocco's Rif Mountains and the hill tribes of Laos. Most backpackers in these regions aren't solely drug tourists, but it would be naive to suggest that they don't sample the local 'produce' ... which often plays a large part in regional culture and pratices. A straw poll I took of travellers in Morocco suggests that the majority try some hash at least once on their trip. When you consider that in the Rif mountains dope is the main cash crop and most locals smoke it, this isn't surprising. Given these realities, I think it's important that a travel guide stress that drug possession is illegal, recommend against consumption, but having said that also describe the drug's role in the region and give tips for staying safe. -- Allyak 08:17, Jul 30, 2004 (EDT)

People enjoy weed. It is only morons who keep the weed illegal.."i think we should only talk about legal shops"....please. Pot doesn't hurt anyone. If someone wants weed in my town I would be glad to help them out. It is time people start to be a little less fascist. It is people like you, who will not stand up for liberty and personal choice, that make the rest of us suffer. I don't smoke cigerettes but you don't see me crusading to get them banned. YOu know why? Cause I could care less if some one smokes cigs. It boggles my mind the amount of interference people in America will tolerate in regards to their freedom. Should Bush listen to our phone conversations? Sure! He's fighting terror. Pot criminalization HURTS us all. The money spent fighting it could fund educational and social programs the government claims we cant afford. The money made by taxing it like cigs or booze could also support such programs. Use your head and don't just listen to everything your told. I quote Hitler "How fortunate for governments that the people do not think". If you can tell me why weed is bad and not just that it "is bad" we can talk. Chances are the pros out way the cons. Read Harvard professor Lester Grinspoons Book Marijuana reconsidered, or The emperor wears no clothes. READ before you start talking.

(Kind of like reading the rest of the comments here before adding shoving yours in at the top? [I moved them here.]) Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree with most of them them. But this isn't the place to debate U.S. drug policy, and your comments aren't particuarly relevant to how this internationally-edited travel guide should handle information about activities that might get travelers into legal trouble. - Todd VerBeek 08:13, 24 May 2006 (EDT)

Under American law, it is illegal to promote or incite any activity which is illegal in the United States. Thus, it is not illegal to report the fact that you can buy lots of drugs in Vancouver, or whatever, but it is illegal to encourage people to go there and buy it. Presently, PETA is preparing a lawsuit against several US based media companies, such as Discovery, for promoting bullfighting, which is a criminal offence in the US but of course legal in Spain. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs)

Proposed policy[edit]

Could such a policy be something along the lines of:

Wikitravel articles should mention activities that are illegal at the destination if such information is likely to be useful to travellers. Examples include:
  • Where the destination imposes penalties on activities that are unusually severe compared to those in Western countries. Examples: countries that impose long sentences or death penalties for drug offences; and countries that use corporal punishment such as beatings for minor offences.
  • Where the destination criminalises behaviour that is acceptable or legal in Western societies. Examples: the consumption of alcohol, sex outside marriage, or not adhering to local dress standards.
  • Where the destination places any special restrictions on the activities of foreigners or on people who are members of certain groups (for example, women, racial minorities, or homosexuals), especially in the case where these differ radically from those in Western countries.
  • Where police or public corruption mean that the written law of the land differs substantially from the practise of law enforcement. For example, it might be useful to point out any particular phrases or signs that a traveller can use to figure out whether an official is asking for a bribe, together with information about whether the bribe is necessary or a scam.
  • Where an illegal activity is an important or integral part of the reason people visit the destination, such as destinations famed for their drug supply.
In this last case, Wikitravel needs to tred a fine line about giving information. The test is that information should be provided for a traveller's safety, rather than solely to promote illegal activities. When writing about safety issues with illegal activities, Wikitravel articles must always emphasise that that activity is a crime when mentioning safety issues: "X activity, in addition to being illegal, is dangerous because of Y."
Examples of emphasising safety include: identifying areas where drugs are openly sold; and, in areas where travellers frequently take illegal drugs, identifying safety issues with the drug supply.
However because articles should not promote illegal activity, wikitravel articles should not, for example, give information about the standard price of illegal drugs, nor about the identities of specific dealers. Nor should they make qualitative judgements about the drug supply above those of safety. For example: "heroin in this area, in addition to being illegal, is frequently cut with dangerous additives such as..." would be acceptable in a destination where travellers are likely to encounter the heroin trade, because it is focused on the safety of the supply. "Pot in X destination is better than in Y destination" would not be acceptable, because it is not motivated by safety concerns.

Hypatia 18:58, 17 Dec 2004 (EST)

Looks good. We have a good example at Rock_bottom_budget_travelling:

In some countries or cities it can be worth a try to use the public transport without paying - on the risk of being fined.

elgaard 21:06, 17 Dec 2004 (EST)

Actually, the first sentence should probably read: "Wikitravel articles should mention activities that are illegal at the destination if such information is likely to be useful to travellers, but they must not promote illegal activities." "Useful" is a vague test, the 'no promotion' rule is probably more useful and should be introduced earlier. I'm not sure about that Rock Bottom example, I think it's actually getting close to promotion with the "worth a try" thing. Hypatia 21:30, 17 Dec 2004 (EST)

If the policy as proposed stands, maybe the best way to rephrase that sentence would be "In some countries or cities budget travellers use the public transport without paying - on the risk of being fined." It's less promotional, at least to my ears. Hypatia 21:33, 17 Dec 2004 (EST)
I would still call it promotional. And it is not useful for me to know that some other budget traveller might not have a ticket. We should also consider what we want the policy to stop. Eg: "In some countries or cities pervert travellers rape women - on the risk of being fined.". But I agree with your new first sentence. elgaard 09:23, 18 Dec 2004 (EST)
Ah, I thought when you said "good example" you meant something that was a good example of something already in line with the proposed policy! Hypatia 09:46, 18 Dec 2004 (EST)

Finally, it should be noted that this policy draft was in no way intended to apply to warnings about illegal activity that a traveller might encounter: it's intended to apply to discussion of illegal things the traveller themselves might do. Hopefully obvious :) Hypatia 11:25, 18 Dec 2004 (EST)

Love it. The proposed policy does a good job in balancing the need to promote respect for local laws and the realities of tourism. -- Allyak 01:59, 26 Dec 2004 (EST)

We have absolutely no need to "promote respect for local laws". Thats not one of our goals. We should mention illegal activities to protect travellers from arrest or harassment. --Evan 02:35, 31 Dec 2004 (EST)

Neutral point of view[edit]

So, Ive tried to revise this policy to make it more neutral. It seemed originally pretty authoritarian. I, for one, dont believe for an instant that things that are illegal are necessarily wrong. There are any number of places in the world where practices that Westerners cherish, like free speech or a free press, are specifically illegal. I think we need to be very careful about equating illegality with being inappropriate or wrong behavior.

Overall, though, I think this is good. One comment is that I think the main thing that were trying to address here is drugs; it might be a good idea just to have a separate drug guide policy. --Evan 02:27, 31 Dec 2004 (EST)

I think the policy should make it a little clearer that the criterion applies always to local laws, and so eg. listings of the best coffeeshops in Amsterdam are fine... as well as a short elucidation of the nuanced difference between 'selective decriminalization' and 'legalization'.
I don't think we need a separate drug policy, and for that matter I don't think we need a sex tourism policy either. If the country doesn't consider it a problem, why should we? Jpatokal 02:51, 31 Dec 2004 (EST)
I am unsupportive of your position so long as Thailand fails to consider it a problem that children are sold to brothels. -- Colin 03:34, 31 Dec 2004 (EST)
Actually, Thailand does consider it a problem and it's a hell of a lot less common than you'd think. (Places like Cambodia, on the other hand...) However, prostitution of any kind is illegal in both Thailand and Cambodia, so this is a bit of a red herring. Jpatokal 21:07, 2 Jan 2005 (EST)
(Actually, I'm even nastier about that: I don't like that slaves are sold to brothels at any age.) There's a related problem of figuring out whether or how we want to select an audience. For example, the day that Wikitravel considers it acceptable to advertise the price and location of underage prostitutes is the day I disappear. If articles start to veer towards extensively describing adult prostitution venues, well, that's a turn-off for a lot of people and useless to a lot of others, while being very useful for some. We can't embrace a "we'll discuss everything that's legal/tacitly accepted at destinations" policy without first fully understanding that that will turn people away and attract others. Desirable or not? It requires some discussion. Hypatia 18:15, 2 Jan 2005 (EST)
The article did not label any illegal activity as "wrong", nor did it describe them as "inappropriate" in any way. It said "don't promote illegal activities". In other words, the policy suggested providing warnings in order to help the traveler avoid doing normal Western stuff that can get you incarcerated (e.g. extra marital sex can get you in a heap of trouble in Saudi Arabia), but don't promote the illegal activity (e.g. to prostylize in Saudi Arabia, meet folk in rear booths of the Good News Lounge). I would like to see the admonition against promotion restored. If people want to get into trouble, give them enough information so that they know they are doing something illegal, but let them choose their path without our active encouragement.
The law cannot enforce morals. To say something is Wrong (or immoral) assumes a moral standard - this differs with culture. To say something is illegal indicates there are legal consequences for partaking in that activity. Although most lawmakers have some sort of moral standard they are working to when making the law, the consequences of enforcement of the law are what I would be concerned about. This is what travellers should be told. -- Huttite 19:14, 2 Jan 2005 (EST)
Also, on a side note, I don't view this policy as being drug-centric. But reading the policy as written, I'm unsure whether discussion of Amsterdam Coffeeshops are permitted. Personally, I think we should allow the discussion of Amsterdamn Coffeehouses while at the same time disallow the discussion of places to buy weed in the US. Do we have any consensus on this point that would require a change to how this policy is written? -- Colin 03:34, 31 Dec 2004 (EST)
FWIW, I intended the original policy to proscribe certain descriptions of things that are against local laws. So if it is changed to make that clearer that that's the case, fine. One problem though is the increasing restrictions national's countries place on their activities overseas. For example, quite apart from the ethical issues Australian citizens can be imprisoned in Australia for having sex with anyone under 16 anywhere in the world. I don't know whether we want to allow for that kind of thing or not.
Also, it wasn't really intended to be specifically a drug policy. Examples of non-drug applications are welcome for discussion. One is this thing in Rock bottom budget travelling that seems to be encouraging a "give it a go" attitude to fare evasion. Do we care about that or not? Hypatia 18:15, 2 Jan 2005 (EST)

When I first suggested this policy, I had thought that we might come up with a simple rule like WikiTravel articles should not advocate partaking in illegal activities or WikiTravel articles should explain the consequences of partaking in (illegal) activities that are advocated in the article. At the time I had encountered an article concerning the quality of marujana/cannabis in an area and another suggesting that abandoning a car on a city street, rather than selling it, was an appropriate means of disposing of the vehicle. Both activities are questionable and possibly, but not neccessarily, illegal. My thought was, if we say it in an article should we also point out the consequence or should we not say it in the first place? I think we should provide the information if helps the traveller. How we present it is the challenge. -- Huttite 19:14, 2 Jan 2005 (EST)

I agree with most WT users here that Wikitravel should not be used to impose moral values on others. But I think we should just accept that Wikitravel does have certain minimal moral values. I.e. I do not think we should help travelers find uderage brothels, kill homeless people to steal their kidneys, support terrorist organisation killing people, etc. Not to promote the respect of the law in some country, but to promote respect for universal human rights and fundamental freedoms. elgaard 16:41, 5 Jan 2005 (EST)

Just to clarify one rather important point, since the crew here seems to be amongst the most active in all the "adminstrative" types of pages: Posession, consumption, and trafficing of any amount of pot is still an Illegal Act in Canada. The only way you can legally obtain and smoke a doobie up here is if you have a prescription from a doctor and are willing to be monitored by and participate in research by Health Canada. Posession of small ammounts (less than 27 grams or 1 oz I believe, but possibly less than 7 grams or 1/4 oz) is no longer an Indictable Offense, but it is still a Summary Offense, where the offender is subject to a hefty fine. I do not believe the same can be said for "processed forms" such as hashish and "oil". For the benefit of those unfamiliar with the legal terms, Intictable = You must appear before the courts and the charge will appear on your criminal record (possibly leading to your refusal of entry should you try to visit Canada again, or preclude you from entering many other countries in the future), and Summary = You may plead guilty on the spot and be assesed a fine like you would for driving 75 in a 50 zone. Of course, if anyone wants to include that bit of data in an article, you might want to check news releases and such, because the whole decriminalization thing up here has been in flux for at least 5 years now. Weaponofmassinstruction 00:04, 21 Jan 2005 (EST)

Lionfish's thoughts

This is an interesting discussion! I think the policy that's been decided upon is good. I was concerned when I started reading this talk that it would become a draconian anti-drug policy, however everyone here seems to be open minded enough for that not to have happened. Here's my possible solution to the immoral acts a traveller could take part in (or help with): (Note: Here I define immoral as 'something which harms another person' Note also that often people can support an immoral organisation without realising it. Eg when we buy clothes on the highstreet... [Eek, Can Of Worms warning!]).

We could add the requirement that 'If the activity in some way funds an organisation that is involved in slavery or torture then a warning should be added to the page'. This does have a problem (or benifit): Many governments of countries are involved in the torture and detainment without trial of members of opposition parties, etc. It would mean on their main page a warning to the effect that money spent in, for example, govt run hotels, directly funds the regime. Burma (Myanmar) is another example, where much of the tourist infrastructure was built by slaves.

How would this apply to brothels? If there are warnings about how brothels in a certain area use slaves or children etc. then it might alert people who might not be aware of the forced-prostitution etc, and stop them going. (Maybe I'm being a bit naive that people might respond by not going to them...) Also this doesn't decide how much information to give about such things... Anyway, that's my two pence! This really is a moral maze, with no completely 'right' answer... Goodluck figuring this out.[[User::Lionfish|Lionfish]] 3am >_<, 6 Mar 2005 (GMT)

PS I put the subheading, because I was finding it hard to delineate all the responses above. Thought it might be a good idea to write messages like this...?

I've changed the caption under the photo because the previous one really was not NPOV.

And people say I have no sense of humor. -- Colin 19:10, 26 Jan 2006 (EST)

Change on Jun 22[edit]

I reworked the policy a bit on June 22: I didn't intend any semantic changes to the policy. I wanted to clarify the following points:

  • the policy applies to local law
  • illegal activities by people who aren't the traveller aren't such a concern and belong in Understand and Stay safe. This was kind of tacked on the end of the old policy, I moved them to a separate section
  • it is not solely a drug policy. All the examples in the second section are still drug examples, anyone got any others? (I guess fare evasion, some missionary work...)

Hypatia 00:42, 22 Jun 2005 (EDT)

How about: being gay, being communist or atheist, practicing Falung Gong, being a woman and not wearing the proscribed clothes, advocating the wrong ideas or theories, etc.
My main concern about the policy as stated is that we seem to put a lot of emphasis on intent. I don't think it's easy to determine the intent of the contributor, and in the end it doesn't really matter. We're not trying to improve the moral fiber of contributors; we're trying to make a travel guide.
I wonder if we can fiddle this policy around to make it less dependent on intent and more dependent on content. --Evan 10:34, 22 Jun 2005 (EDT)
Being gay/communist/atheist/whatever or unintentionally wearing proscribed clothes is not really a choice in the same sense that taking drugs is. I've added exchanging money in the black market as example of an illegal activity that many partake in. Jpatokal 10:54, 22 Jun 2005 (EDT)
I'm not sure I understand the "choice" distinction. Does that matter for this policy? --Evan 12:45, 22 Jun 2005 (EDT)
It does focus on intent, but I intended it to be intent of the traveller rather than the contributor. (In fact, I'm not sure where you get your reading of contributor's intent...) ie the policy as written is intended to help travellers avoid illegal activities (by informing them about things that they might not suspect are illegal); possibly to decide if an illegal activity is necessary (eg bribery in some locations); and to know about whether an illegal activity is dangerous. Beyond that, the policy is intended to discourage further description of illegal activity that focusses on it being fun or lucrative or whatever. I didn't do content based because... well, then you either need destination specific policies or this becomes the Wikitravel dubious activity policy Hypatia 23:53, 25 Jun 2005 (EDT)
Maybe a better term than "intent of traveller" is "intended audience of the writing". This does tie into contributer's intent, but I don't think we'd be judging the writing with reference to their moral fibre or anything of the kind. Taking a piece of writing and determining its intended audience does not necessarily mean referring directly to the author and making a judgement about their morals: it involves judging the writing and its context. Hypatia 23:59, 25 Jun 2005 (EDT)

As related to sexual massage, etc.[edit]

There's currently a discussion on Wikitravel talk:Sex tourism policy regarding proposed changes in that policy. It's been pointed out that certain bits of information that some people wish to be able to include in articles (which means they want them allowed in a revised policy on that subject) run afoul of this policy. In particular, it's about information related to massages "with a happy ending" that are illegal – but nonetheless commonplace – in a particular locale. This policy says that the subject can only be discussed in terms of its safety impact on travelers, but it is debatable whether there is a substantial safety issue there (either in terms of health or of being thrown into prison), which would mean that the only thing we can say about the subject is how to say "no", without any practical information for those who might be inclined to say "yes".

The current policy seems to assume that any information which doesn't actively discourage the activity is necessarily promoting it. I hear this a lot from people who are intent on keeping young people completely in the dark about sex or birth control or homosexuality or even masturbation, and I don't buy it. It is possible – and arguably even beneficial – to say "this exists and some people do it" without promoting it.

It seems to me that we should acknowledge that "illegal" doesn't necessarily mean "unsafe", and allow some kind of information about activities which are technically illegal, but not actually prosecuted or persecuted. Examples might include (as in the above example) sexual massage in China, hashish in Amsterdam, cop bribery in certain banana republics, or exceeding the speed limit on US Interstates. I think that "don't promote" is still a reasonable standard, but carefully and discreetly stating that a certain class of Chinese masseuses will go the extra five-and-a-half inches for an additional amount of money, or that traffic cops in X don't bother with speeders if they're moving with the rest of traffic, provides useful information without actively encouraging anyone who wouldn't otherwise ___ to do it. - Todd VerBeek 23:17, 2 August 2006 (EDT)

Violent Crime & Weapons[edit]

I propose that any part of an article advising travellers to carry a firearm or to behave violently in any circumstances to citizens of their host country be unconditionally removed - murder is a crime under international law, there are no exemptions, if a journalist opened fire on someone in Iraq, whatever the circumstances, it would be a technical violation of international law, and the UN Convention on human rights, which states "everyone has the right to life" and forbids violent indimidation, any thoughts? --MiddleEastern 18:42, 3 February 2007 (EST)

According to policy any edit that advocated murder, violence or anything else illegal would be immediately reverted. As to proposals to ban recommendations about carrying a weapon, are you making that suggestion as something that is in the best interest of the traveler, or is it your own moral stance? If it's the latter, than I suspect the vast majority of editors here (including myself) will be vehemently opposed to pushing any moral position over another. If it's the former, then editors who have worked in Afghanistan, Iraq and other areas covered by War zone safety have clearly indicated that to travel without protection, be it security personnel or some sort of weapon, puts the traveler in grave risk. -- Ryan 19:03, 3 February 2007 (EST)
Your wording seems to imply that we would ban "any part of an article advising travellers to carry a firearm" as well as some other bans. Failure to carry a firearm in Svalbard is a fairly frequent cause of fatality. Perhaps you meant something less general? -- Colin 19:28, 3 February 2007 (EST)
Actually there are exemptions in which it is legal to kill another person, such as when done in self-defense. There are also situations in which it's clearly safer for a traveler to be armed (e.g. when everybody else is, or when surrounded by dangerous animals), or in which it's entirely appropriate to behave violently against the local citizens (e.g. when he's being assaulted by them). If a traveler has moral objections to using a firearm against a person (as I do), then he shouldn't go places where one is needed; that type of information is useful. - Todd VerBeek 20:07, 3 February 2007 (EST)
  • Comment, depending where you are that is true, it is illegal in any circumstance throughout the European Union to kill another human being, although some circumstances of self-defence carry suspended or non-custodial sentances. There are many other countries with the same system --MiddleEastern 11:55, 4 February 2007 (EST)
OK, but there are places where it is both legal and a good idea to carry a firearm, which makes a total ban on recommending it inappropriate. - Todd VerBeek 14:57, 4 February 2007 (EST)
It really comes down to what's best for the traveller. I think in some situations, carrying a weapon is more likely to result in violence (especially if the carrier isn't properly trained), but in other cultures/situations, not carrying a weapon may be a bad idea. I can imagine cultures where not displaying a weapon is an invitation to harassment, as well as situations where there may be dangerous wildlife, etc. It would be really hard to make a blanket statement that travellers should "never ever" carry a weapon in any situation. That said, it also doesn't serve the traveller to advocate violence in any form, but I think our current policies cover that. Maj 21:53, 3 February 2007 (EST)
I'm not for banning it across the board, but I think we rarely need to have lines strongly encouraging it either. Svalbard is a good example of when it's needed. Afghanistan and Iraq are not. The only people that that line could be aimed at are naive tourists, who either shouldn't be there or, if they are going to go regardless, shouldn't be carrying a weapon unless previously trained (in which case they'll already know who they are and not need to be told). Basically I think anyone who is qualified to and should be carrying a weapon are the same ones that wouldn't need to be told to carry it in the first place. They're either in the care of an employer who will cover their safety issues or already in a position to protect themselves. ::: Cacahuate 03:49, 4 February 2007 (EST)
I'm probably the biggest proponent of including this information and the reason for that is... turn on CNN. Unfortunately, the world isn't as cozy as MiddleEastern wants it to be and if you need a weapon to protect yourself get one.
The guide isn't specifically for "tourists", who aren't exactly jumping at the chance to go to Iraq, it's for anyone and everyone. Who can honestly protect you in Iraq? The police are too busy killing Sunnis and the Sunni insurgents are too busy killing the police, and there are others that are preoccupied with killing the general public and kidnapping locals and foreigners. My faith in telling people "Go, and find a bodyguard" is little. Get some details into the guide about where and how to contact these protections services and then I'll reconsider my position, but I think it's unfair to tell people in sugar coated words that your survival should be left up to someone else. -- Andrew H. (Sapphire) 09:11, 4 February 2007 (EST)
OK, let's be more specific - I myself have lived and worked in Iraq several times, I think it would be detrimental to personal safety to walk around brandishing a handgun, I've had one in a cabinet at the back of a jeep, in addition to trained security, said cabinet has never been opened. All we need to say is ensure you have adequate preparation for your security, and liase with an expert organisation. Many consultants including the Royal Military Police (UK) in Basra will discourage ever walking the streets armed as it will, understandably anger the local population. If anyone is actually going to Iraq, they will in fact struggle not to find security services at their disposal! Although I am happy to give a link to a directory of operational security services, maintained by the Australian government for the information of NGO workers. More to the point, I think that people should be warned about violent sects, dangerous animals, etc, and to draw their own conclusions from that information - the actual suggestion of weapons is morally wrong, dangerous and possible illegal, furthermore, those people worldwide who are anti-gun, which I can only imagine to be a majority, may take offence at seeing the phrase get a gun before you go in every other article (exaggeration.. of course) --MiddleEastern 11:53, 4 February 2007 (EST)
Uh, you might want to quit while you're ahead here ;-) I think you have a great argument for not recommending folks carry a weapon in Iraq and Afghanistan based on your personal experience and what's best for the traveller. (Please take a look at the new text that's been suggested for the Iraq warning). That's all good and fine. What you're not going to get agreement on is that we need some sort of statement/guideline based on morality or inoffensiveness. That's just what the whole traveller comes first thing is all about. Maj 14:45, 4 February 2007 (EST)
ME, If you disagree with specific advice given in specific articles, then try fixing those articles. Your proposal of a guide-wide ban on that advice - which may be both legal and wise in another context - makes about as much sense as suggesting that we should never suggest going to places that serve alcohol because in some parts of the world it's illegal, and there are people in many places who'll find that advice offensive. - Todd VerBeek 14:57, 4 February 2007 (EST)
Well, ok! I suppose that's ok. I'll try to take the edge of that kind of advice if there are no objections :) MiddleEastern 15:01, 4 February 2007 (EST)
There is older discussion of this topic at Talk:Afghanistan#changes_to_the_warning. Pashley 06:12, 19 March 2007 (EDT)

Western bias[edit]

This is a guide to the world, and I don't at all think that all our readers are "Western." I'd like to excise the "Western" bits and convert them to "many countries." Objections? --Peter Talk 19:26, 1 August 2009 (EDT)

I've taken the silence to mean noone objects either because they agree or don't care, and have made the change. --Peter Talk 16:57, 11 August 2009 (EDT)

Getting away without paying[edit]

I've reverted this edit [1] once before, citing this policy as the reason. The same issue has arisen several other places too, where you can get in somewhere without paying with some local knowledge. I think the policy should make it clear we are not about listing possible ways to defraud operators of admission fees. If there a site charges to park your car, but there is free parking just outside, then we should put the info in the guide. However, if there is staff entrance around the back of Disneyland, that makes walking in easy, then we omit that. I think this is existing policy, but I just thought I'd check for any disagreement before updating the policy document to explicitly mention this. --inas 00:29, 7 August 2009 (EDT)

Policy on marihuana/pot/weed[edit]

swept from pub:

What's Wikitravel policy on this topic? I know the policy on sex tourism is quite far-going, so what about pot? I'm trying to rework the "coffeeshops" section in Amsterdam, should it contain any listings? advice where to get it? health advice? or should we omit any listings at all and just mention it exists? Technically it's still illegal to smoke it in the Netherlands (it's just not enforced in practice). --globe-trotter 09:01, 9 January 2010 (EST)

If it is illegal, then I think it should be treated as such. Certainly no listings, maybe some advice, would be my take. This is very relevant to lots of Asian destinations as well ("Bob serves the best Happy Pizza in Sihanoukville".... etc... yawn... --Burmesedays 09:10, 9 January 2010 (EST)
It's only technically illegal (when reading laws), in practice the police does not enforce these laws. This is mostly done to make the Netherlands comply with some international treaties. --globe-trotter 09:26, 9 January 2010 (EST)
How about a paragrpah of prose explaining that and giving some rough pointers as to where to find a smelly coffee shop? --Burmesedays 09:29, 9 January 2010 (EST)
That's not too hard, there are about 300 (!) of them scattered all over the city =P But yes, will do that :) --globe-trotter 09:40, 9 January 2010 (EST)
Ah, another question: should it be in "stay safe" or "drink"? As we don't list any specific listings, I think "stay safe" makes most sense. --globe-trotter 10:06, 9 January 2010 (EST)
As for the Netherlands, where it's illegality is but a technicality, I think it's quite safe to write as much about the topic as you see fit. It's one of the major tourist draws, so of course we should provide visitors with the best advice we can. I would personally have loved some good recommendations when I was in A'dam this summer. --Stefan (sertmann) talk 10:14, 9 January 2010 (EST)
It would make sense to have some kind of official Wikitravel policy on this. And yes, it's a major tourist draw, some of the tourists only come to Amsterdam just to do that. But on the other hand, we also don't list Thai "massage parlors" around Ratchadaphisek, which are also illegal but tolerated in practice. I know it feels different (the coffeeshops in Amsterdam have an official government license), but it's hard to draw the line. --globe-trotter 10:29, 9 January 2010 (EST)
I think sex tourism is an different ballpark altogether. WT indirectly encouraging slave trade, child abduction and HIV preveilance, even though it might be tolerated by the police, is not the same thing as a government licensed coffee shop. Amsterdam (along with the licensed Bhang sales in India) is clearly a special case, and the only gray area I can think of, is the government licensed brothels in e.g. Nevada - which are conveniently handled by the Sex tourism policy. Besides, after briefly skimming through our Illegal activities policy I see nothing that would disallow handling Amsterdam's coffee shops as normal listings. --Stefan (sertmann) talk 11:45, 9 January 2010 (EST)

I'm not so fussed on the policy - but lets keep well clear of the euphemisms please. If we decide to list we owe a duty to travellers to use plain and clear English. If we are listing a coffee shop supplying hashish and/or marijuana leaf, then we should say so explicitly - none of this nonsense about "smelly" or other such. We shouldn't assume that a traveller is necessarily aware of the legal situation either, and we should make this clear also. --inas 18:06, 10 January 2010 (EST)

Looking at the policy, I think the line "Wikitravel articles should avoid giving information about illegal activities that is useful only to those seeking it and which is not motivated by safety concerns, for example, giving information about the standard price and quality of illegal drugs or about the identities of specific dealers" would suggest that it is against the policy to list places where one can purchase marijuana and other drugs.

The description under "Drink" (without the listings) reads well according to the policy. The description under "Stay Safe" of "Cannibis and other drugs" seems to be mostly against the policy. It gives advice on how/where to get the best pot and how to smoke and have a "good trip" for beginners. There is also conflicting information between the sections on magic mushrooms. ChubbyWimbus 21:54, 1 June 2010 (EDT)

What is the current Dutch law on mushrooms? Is there any update on this? On the policy quoted above, several of our Asian articles about the the well-trodden crusty traveller destinations contravene that, with advice about procuring happy pizzas, power shakes etc.--Burmesedays 22:03, 1 June 2010 (EDT)
Erowid on the legal status of Mushrooms, country by country [2].--Burmesedays 22:06, 1 June 2010 (EDT)
With the policy basically only allowing information on how to avoid these and their dangers, mentions of how to obtain, use, etc. any of these should be deleted. ChubbyWimbus 22:22, 1 June 2010 (EDT)

So, to be absolutely clear, a listing like this one from Siem Reap, should be deleted according to policy?

  • Happy Angkor Pizza, (Pub Street). depending on how the police are feeling that day either may or may not sell you cannabis-laced "happy" pizza. It may pay to subtly confirm with your server that the pizza will be "all the way happy" but don't try the "extra happy" unless you know what you're doing. Also, note that if they are willing to sell you any herb without the pizza it is likely to be of poor quality.  edit

--Burmesedays 22:40, 1 June 2010 (EDT)

It would seem that way. If it is in a prime location where tourists who are unaware of what a "happy pizza" is could possibly enter, then it may warrant mention as a warning but not as a listing. Does the policy read that way to you? I'm sure someone else will comment, as well. ChubbyWimbus 23:06, 1 June 2010 (EDT)
Fresh mushrooms used to be legal in the Netherlands, but have recently been banned. But it still can be bought nearly anywhere, this rule does not seem enforced. Also, growing the mushrooms at home is still legal as well. About the marihuana, it does feel weird not to add listings of them to the Amsterdam article, as so many tourists visit them and its not illegal in practice (as Sertmann said, only a technicality). --globe-trotter 13:17, 2 June 2010 (EDT)
The Cannibis Cup is Amsterdam's big marijuana festival, right? Maybe it would be okay to list a few of the frequent winners, like Barney's. You state that it's not difficult to find coffeeshops anyway, and since the festival must obviously be legal, the places that often win may be worth noting. (The festival should probably be listed under "Do". I assume it's popular). Alternatively, we could rework the policy, but I think we would need something a little less subjective than "in practice not enforced". A hardline approach to just ban these listings like we have now is easier, but of course, the world does not always make things easy! ChubbyWimbus 16:16, 2 June 2010 (EDT)