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Talk:United States of America

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Revision as of 19:00, 9 June 2011 by William M Goetsch (talk | contribs) (Removing bloat)
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This page is for discussing the corresponding article or guide. For questions, comments, or personal stories about this destination or topic, visit Wikitravel Extra. For more about using talk pages check out Wikitravel:Using talk pages.

See also: Wikitravel:Manual of style for the US.

Talk is all well and good. But it's no substitute for fixing this article, which is bloated and rambling. Let's just do it. We can always undo mistakes.

Archived discussions on this page can be found at:

Recent disease edits

Several US articles have recently received very detailed information on diseases - see Special:Contributions/ for some examples. While this is good info, I'm concerned that it might be too much for an already-lengthy article like the USA article. For example, West Nile virus, Hanta virus, and the plague are of such minimal concern to anyone visiting the US that there are literally hundreds of other more relevant issues to be concerned about. Does anyone have any suggestion for keeping this info, but doing so in a way that doesn't distract from information that is relevant to the majority of US visitors? -- Ryan • (talk) • 02:05, 24 January 2011 (EST)

They're good-faith edits, but I agree that most are so rare that they don't need mentioned. Lyme disease is probably the most prevalent in the list... Many of them are more specific to certain regions, so perhaps they could just be mentioned in the regional article and left out of this one.
It was fine before; list some of the most significant hazards -- probably Rabies being the most important -- and leave the details for the region and state articles. LtPowers 18:47, 24 January 2011 (EST)

Disease too PC?

The above discussion made me read over the "Disease" section and I notice it says "the HIV rate — especially among gay men, IV drug users, sex workers, and certain ethnic minority groups", so... I was wondering why exactly we suddenly get vague with "certain ethnic minority groups"? When talking HIV, I don't think most people want to have to guess or infer. It is African-Americans that are being referenced here, correct? Can we just say this? Are there others (it's plural)? ChubbyWimbus 04:07, 24 January 2011 (EST)

HIV risk has nothing to do with race, but rather with behavior. I think this we are wandering into [obvious] territory if we cap every article with a reminder to use condoms. Sexually transmitted diseases are also addressed under the gay/lesbian section of this article. I may go in and consolidate things a bit...SONORAMA 05:37, 24 January 2011 (EST)
The condom thing definitely doesn't belong. HIV risks DO heighten depending on who you are having sexual relations with, because we can also say that it is behavior rather than sexuality that creates the risk for any group. That is technically true, but it doesn't change the statistics that the prevalence of HIV is higher in certain groups, making them more risky. If we can pinpoint "gay men" then we should also be able to identify these "ethnic minority groups". It does no good to try and sugar coat it by saying, "especially people with certain sexual preferences, people who use certain drugs/narcotics, people of certain occupations, and certain ethnic minority groups." ChubbyWimbus 16:35, 24 January 2011 (EST)
This is getting obscure, and most certainly out of my area of expertise, however, prevalence of AIDS within "ethnic minorities", is more likely as a result of socio-economic factors, reflecting the social makeup of the U.S. There is no real link at all to race, the link is to wealth and privilege, which is just reflected in HIV stats the same as it reflected in racial statistics.
Are we really recommending to a traveller to play a statistical game here? The AIDS risk exists worldwide, and I don't think we need a statistical treatment of it here. --inas 17:26, 24 January 2011 (EST)
Of course there is no genetic link between HIV and race, but someone felt that it was important to list the groups in which HIV is most prevalent, so if we want this information then I don't like it being vague. There is also no link between HIV and any of these other groups genetically, so there are always social/economic factors. The point of naming WHO the "ethnic minorities" are is not to say "these people are dirty, disgusting, immoral, subhumans". If that were the case, then the entire list is highly offensive and judgmental. It's just not useful to say "certain groups" so let's be fair and name names if we like this information. If we don't, then let's get rid of all of them and leave it at the fact that HIV in America is more common than most other developed nations. Which do we prefer? ChubbyWimbus 18:48, 24 January 2011 (EST)
I'm certainly in favour of the latter. As I said before, if we really do want visitors to try their luck with stats, income and wealth is a better measure than skin colour or race. Best advice is to check credit history --inas 20:31, 24 January 2011 (EST)
I say axe the list. Practice safe sex regardless of which stranger in a foreign land you are screwing... --Peter Talk 13:37, 26 January 2011 (EST)
I think there's consensus then that the list wasn't useful, so it's gone. ChubbyWimbus 16:59, 26 January 2011 (EST)

Phone numbers

Currently the article states: "All of the digits must usually be dialed, even if "XXX" and "YYY" matches your phone's number. (In the smaller cities, XXX need not be dialed for local calls.)"

This is not the norm. By default, area codes are not needed, and cities/metro areas with 10-digit dialing are the exception. That said, since much of the population lives in these metro areas, and many visitors will be in these areas, I can see how it might appear differently.

I'm going to edit this to present it both accurately and helpfully. --BigPeteB 17:24, 28 March 2011 (EDT)

Men shaking hands with women

For whatever it's worth, I'm 46 and grew up in a liberal family in New York, NY and live in Manhattan today, and what I've always been taught is that it's best to wait for a woman to extend her hand before shaking it. I don't always practice that, and it isn't a terrible faux pas for a man to offer his hand first, but sometimes, women react as if that's just an excuse for the man to touch them. So I submit that it's a best practice for the man to do the traditional thing and wait for the woman to extend her hand (or not), and I dissent about reverting that part of my recent edit. Ikan Kekek 20:41, 9 April 2011 (EDT)

While that may be a social norm in some instances, I'm not sure that it's a common enough thing (or unique enough) to merit inclusion in this article. The "Respect" section of the US article seems to become a dumping ground for etiquette advice, and the level of detail that people add often far exceeds what a traveler would need to know. If left unchecked this section tends to balloon into rambling paragraphs (for example: [1]), which hides the useful info under a mountain of less-important details. -- Ryan • (talk) • 21:25, 9 April 2011 (EDT)
I definitely get your point. Thanks. Ikan Kekek 21:47, 9 April 2011 (EDT)
I also think that it's not severe enough to warrant inclusion, because it's not rude or abhorrent for men to shake hands with women and I don't think most women would actually be disgusted by it. If one does happen to leave you hanging though, you do have an open-hand to slap her with. :P ChubbyWimbus 01:22, 10 April 2011 (EDT)
Definitely not abhorrent or disgusting. :-) Ikan Kekek 01:52, 10 April 2011 (EDT)
I suppose if a traveler is invited to a society party on the Upper East Side, he might need to know about certain social customs -- but enumerating them all is beyond the scope of this article. The average traveler will do just fine knowing simply that it is customary to shake hands when meeting someone (male or female). 50 years ago, that may not have been the case, but today I think it is. LtPowers 09:35, 10 April 2011 (EDT)
I'm under 50 years old, grew up on the West Side, and don't travel in the kinds of circles you're talking about, and I disagree somewhat with your opinion, but I do agree now that it's not important to fight about the edit - partly because foreigners will often be given some leeway, anyway. Ikan Kekek 14:04, 10 April 2011 (EDT)

NYC museums

I feel this edit was a bad idea. First and foremost, it means we now have no mention of several of the most important museums in the country. Second of all, the reason I wrote that paragraph (and the D.C. paragraph) is because otherwise, NYC and DC museums would come to dominate the list that appears below them. I could be wrong, but I don't think any of the cities Ryan mentioned in his edit summary come close to NYC's selection when it comes to renown and importance. LtPowers 17:09, 5 May 2011 (EDT)

My concern was that the paragraph seemed like an invitation to add "my city, too" lists, something we typically try to avoid at the country/region level. DC, as the capital, might warrant special mention, but calling out New York in its own paragraph and including museums like MOMA would seem to invite the addition of the Getty in LA, the Field Museum in Chicago, etc, leading to too much detail for what the section is trying to convey about the US, namely that there are a lot of great museums. -- Ryan • (talk) • 17:19, 5 May 2011 (EDT)
Those individual museums can be added to the list; the problem is that the Guggenheim, Ellis Island, and the Natural History museum all deserve to be on that list as well (plus at least one of the MMOA, MOMA, and Intrepid). Any other city that had four or five on the list could be broken out as well, but I doubt any other city would qualify. LtPowers 20:22, 5 May 2011 (EDT)

Even as over-hyped and over-promoted as New York City may be, I do think that it has enough world-famous museums that the paragraph was not inappropriate. If there was something wrong with the wording, that can be worked out, but the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other such museums are actually more well-known to many people abroad (and domestically) than even D.C.'s Smithsonians. I sort of consider Ellis Island to be more of a historical site/landmark than a museum, but that's not so important. I think the list will always potentially attract the "add my city" edits, regardless of whether NYC has its own paragraph or not, but I don't think people will make the argument that New York City does NOT deserve any mention. ChubbyWimbus 02:51, 6 May 2011 (EDT)
Fair enough - please restore the original paragraph. That said, it might be worth revisiting this section in the future to try to make it less of a list of destinations and more of a general overview of museums in America, with a callout for things like hall of fames, and perhaps pointers to why certain museums are where they are (example: philanthropy from individuals like Carnegie, Guggenheim, Getty, etc). -- Ryan • (talk) • 11:04, 6 May 2011 (EDT)
Of course I'm open to changes; the text I wrote was just an attempt at a first pass (the entire "See" section was completely empty except for itineraries before I got my hands on it last June). I'd be interested to see an example of what you mean! LtPowers 16:30, 6 May 2011 (EDT)

Respect (again)

Anyone wishing to go through the archived talk pages for this article will find numerous discussions about trimming the "Respect" section to get rid of Obvious information. The most recent revert to this section was done for the same reasons - the "Respect" section of this article tends to attract well-meaning edits that have the effect of diluting useful information. While it may be valuable to point out the sensitivity of Americans to race issues, this section has been used to present advice on not making fun of America, not joking about September 11, not peeing in public, etc. The Obvious guideline was started as a specific response to these sorts of edits, and the most recent revert was done due to its well-meaning but overly general advice. -- Ryan • (talk) • 18:10, 18 May 2011 (EDT)

Removing bloat

In the phrase "… [US] is regarded as the world's wealthiest and most powerful country…" I removed "regarded as", since the statement as edited is true and factual. As a source I site the CIA world fact book. While it is perhaps more polite to be falsely modest, a fact is a fact. —The preceding comment was added by William M Goetsch (talkcontribs)

Is it the world's wealthiest nation with its billions of dollars in debt? And as far as "most powerful" goes, the nuclear nations all have enough bombs to destroy the planet, so... how much more powerful can any single country get than that? —The preceding comment was added by (talkcontribs)
Hey, guys, if we're going to quibble over this ridiculously trivial matter, could you at least sign your posts? LtPowers 16:18, 8 June 2011 (EDT)
Yeah, I sort of thought that the bloat was elsewhere... I would have signed if the stupid Captcha wasnt requiring a sig 16:22, 8 June 2011 (EDT)

I agree that it's a trivial matter. But it grates on me because it's so politically correct. And I wonder which country the anonymous editor would nominate as the most wealthy and powerful. None I suppose. Then the best, and most NPOV solution is simply to remove the entire sentence, which doesn't seem to have anything much to say to a traveler anyway. I haven't worked on Wikitravel and this page since 2004, and now I remember why I stopped. Bill 14:56, 9 June 2011 (EDT)