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My contributions

Australia scarsdale nimons bridge.jpg

I've made nearly 20,000 edits to Wikitravel over the past six years. Many patrolling, but hopefully many adding useful travel information as well.

You'll see some of my information and photographs in the articles around Australia, in some of the capital cities and regional articles, but also in some of the smaller towns and regional centres. Have a look around Victoria, Paynesville and Bairnsdale soon. I been working on updating Victor Harbor and Kangaroo Island, and I possibly might get enough motivation to give a little bit of help to Adelaide.

In the Cook Islands think I've just about moved Rarotonga to guide and got Aitutaki close. Added a bit of Auckland again, including making the districts there a bit clearer, but again for a big city it is likely to need some local to really get that article nito shape. I can't find a better photo in my set to replace the dull green one of Avarua Harbour. Surely someone has a better one somewhere. Somehow it is easy to take a beautiful photo of Aitutaki, but harder to take one of Rarotonga.

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In Queensland, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Hervey Bay, 1770, and I think I have Lady Elliot Island to guide status. I'm looking for a little icon for the map that would indicate snorkelling, if anyone knows of one in the public domain. If I don't find one soon, I may need to draw one, which could have unforeseen consequences. I'm using icons instead of a sidebar on the Lady Elliot Map because there are so few features.

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Updated many of the towns around western Queensland too, Finished Hungerford for now, and Eulo, and will finished Thargomindah, Yowah before too long, and a few others. I'm sure anybody who has visited this area will agree that it is a little visited, but still a fantastic destination. When looking for information before I went it was hard to find, so hopefully Wikitravel can lead the way and fill a void.

Australia exmouth yardie creek gorge.jpg

Joined in a bit of Western Australia push by User:Cardboardbird and User:Burmesedays

I updated the Southern Highlands (New South Wales), and done a bit of a reorg of the regions and towns. Each town in the southern highlands is distinct, but there are some with not very much there. Thinking of promoting some to usable or even guide with the information they have, if I think it is complete. How should this regions of small towns work?

Updated Yellowstone National Park and Salt Lake City articles were useful during my visit there. Made a few tweaks to improve them from the perspective of a traveller.

I tend to keep a few places in South East Asia, particularly Vietnam, Korea, Japan on my watchlist. Changes there often inspire me to add bits and pieces. I do much the same for parts of the south pacific, including Vanuatu and Fiji. Occasionally have even been known to venture over the United States of America and to the United Kingdom, but I generally feel I can add the most value around the Australian states.

I think the Canberra article is now one of the best I have seen in Australia. Thanks to everyone who has contributed.

I took this photo
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of the big ovine. Its one of two photos I have taken specifically for Wikitravel, the other is of a motorised train in Darling Harbour. All my others have just been selected from a holiday photo set. I did a bit of work on the Goulburn article, while I was there, which now seems very usable.

Used the wikitravel guides for Macau and Hong Kong using the wikitravel guides. Some corrections, but mostly helpful.

Wikitravel operates under a CC-BY-SA 3.0 licence, however all my contributions to Wikitravel are also released into the public domain. This means if you find an article, text, photo or map that was exclusively written or created by me, you can use it in any way you like, without any acknowledgement for any purpose. It follows that should the Wikitravel licence change at any time, you do not need to obtain my permission to relicence any of my work under any new licence.

My politics

There are several issues concerning the future of WT that I see at the moment. How Internet Brands, the owner of the site interacts with the community, how the community and IB react to the site being a prime target for advertisers and SEO specialists, and how IB intends in the future to further gain revenue out of WT.

It had seemed until recently that IB were largely disinterested in WT. Although this was less than ideal, having someone else to pay the server bills, while the community developed the site seemed a reasonable compromise to me. However, the recent involvement by IB leaves me with no doubt that IB consider themselves the true maintainers of the site. Their discussions on removing redirects have left me in little doubt that they have no understanding of how the community policies or even the software operates, and no intention of following community decisions they do not ultimately see in their own best interests. This is disappointing, and leaves me with a feeling of being exploited by a corporation for revenue, rather than part of a community.

The placement of ads by SEO specialists and marketers is still community and IB policy. IB shows reluctance to reduce the value of WT as a site for SEO specialists. The community is not taking sufficient action while value of articles gets diminished by marketing agencies filling the site with information that is at best useless puffery, and at worst misleading to our audience. Some articles are skewed all the way from Get in, and there are few articles left where you can trust any of the Sleep, Eat, or Drink entries.

As a result of this I'm supporting the fork to WMF servers, and looking forward to the move.

My travels

I've set foot on every continent except South America and Antarctica, ridden every ride in every Disney theme park on the planet, crossed 46 out of the 50 U.S. states, and traversed about every country in Western Europe apart from the Iberian Peninsula and Finland. I've done the JR pass thing and the Eurail pass thing. I've lazed and snorkelled around the South Pacific, and attempted mazes in New Zealand north to south.

My writing

A couple of recent trips that don't fit into the Wikitravel mould.

  • Ballarat to Skipton railtrail, [1].
  • Kosciuszko Main Range Track, [2].

I also contribute to Open Street Map.

My observations

The Respect section is one of the highlights of Wikitravel. It is usually an informative, well considered introduction to the customs of a country. Most areas already have most of the useful information included, but unfortunately this important information is still missing from a few articles.

Some of the most insightful pieces of advice are:

  • If there has been an attack on the country that has killed thousands of people, then it is probably best to avoid making jokes about it. Heed this advice from the USA article when preparing your joke list for traveling anywhere.
  • Avoid stripping naked until well outside the arrivals terminal. Great advice from the USA article for those nudist travelers.
  • Remember to brush your teeth - more great dental health advice from the USA article.
  • Don't call Irish English, Canadians American or New Zealanders Australian. Timely advice in these articles especially for travelers who have difficulty remembering the country they are visiting.
  • Just in case you were considering pushing (cutting) in line while traveling, there is valuable advice not to push in front of people of lower socio-economic status than you from in the USA, and don't push in front of anybody at all in Canada

How many times a day do you take a short stroll? It is all very reminiscent of a a bygone era, where ladies gather their parasol, gentlemen their hat, before embarking on a short stroll through the gardens of a late afternoon, in order to properly digest their cucumber sandwiches. However, the glory days remain with us, with so many accommodation providers offering the opportunities for short strolls. Their accommodation is surprisingly only a a short stroll to the beach, a short stroll to the city centre, and a short stroll to the art gallery. The opportunities for those wishing to stroll are seemingly endless.

One of the most common complaints of travelers is that nowhere is new anymore, everything has been done. You can cross the world, and still be surrounded by tourists, just doing the same thing as you. Well the beaten path is well beaten, but to get off it can require less effort than you think.

The secret is - just walk for 30 minutes. Along a river, a lake, a track, a path, or especially up a hill.

Try it sometime, its not a day trek, you don't have to find some small African province unmentioned in any guide. You don't have to chance a war zone to escape the tourist hoards..

  • 30 minutes walk from Victoria Peak - no one but local joggers, and a much better view.
  • 30 minutes walk from Old Faithful, and up the hill - you can still see the geyser, but the crowds are way in the distance, and there are no bear jams.
  • 30 minutes walk along the Thames - will give you some of the better sights of London, with not even a commuter to get in your way.
  • 30 minutes walk along Sydney Harbour - the views over the harbour through gum trees are spectacular as you walk, and most days you will have the path yo yourself.
  • 30 minutes walk up from Niagara Falls - no crowds, no cost, just you and the river..
  • 30 minutes walk from the carpark at Angkor Wat - even the touts don't go this far (but don't try it anywhere with elephants).
  • 30 minutes walk from Milford Sound - beautiful & desolate.
  • 30 minutes walk from Uluru - the tour coaches serving champagne on the table by the side of the bus at sunset will just seem like a bad dream.
  • 30 minutes along the Saigon river. Could easily be the furthest anyone has ever walked in that city..

I'll see you 30 minutes down the track...

My administration

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I am a WT administrator.

I sometimes patrol changes for edits that are not in line with Wikitravel policy. Vandalism, irrelevant information, or comments are just reverted, but for other changes I include a comment or a pointer to the Wikitravel policy in question. If you disagree, and think that the edit is in line with policy, the best place to discuss this is on the talk page of the article. If you think the policy is wrong, then you need to discuss this on the talk page for the policy itself.

My copyediting

I'm running a script against some articles that contain suspect language or formatting. The script is a form of prototype toutbot. I'm checking the output and applying the changes, and nothing is running automatically.

The copyedit process is currently:

  • Postlinking, and tidying up the results.
  • Removing wikipedia inline links (except the ones to article names).
  • Identifying URL's in the text, and adding the required linking
  • Adding any missing leading http to links - a very common mistake in urls.
  • Sorting sections into the correct section order
  • Common spelling mistakes
  • Truncating links which attempt to count clicks from Wikitravel.
  • Checking second level headings, and fixing case
  • Checking Eat and Sleep listings for first party pronouns, trying some standard adaptations, and removing them if that fails.
  • Removing some common flowery language from Eat and Sleep listings.
  • Removing URL's that are known to link to guides, or consolidators.
  • Unlinking images of hotels.
  • Removing the expression located in/located on
  • Formatting Australian and U.S. phone numbers into the standard format
  • Sorting any adjacent XML sleep entries into alphabetical order.
  • If it encounters a sleep entry in a standard format, name in bold, url, address, tel, fax, email, text all on one line, it converts to an xml sleep listing.
  • Abbreviating currency symbols, and removing expressions like AUD, CDN, USD, from articles where that is the national currency.
  • Changing AM/PM, temps, distances, etc to standard abbreviations where they exist.
  • Change wireless internet to Wi-Fi in sleep and eat listings.
  • It removes cents from Euro, and $ values where the cents value is zero.
  • Consolidating multiple blank lines into single blank lines.
  • Removing blank listings, and all of the example text, example images, and signatures in articles.
  • Removing the town name from sleep addresses if it is the same as the article name
  • Adding an isPartOf template, if it is missing one. Tries to parse the opening line to make a guess if the standard opening line is used.
  • It changes phrases like "travellers are advised to", to more succinct equivalents.
  • It tries to recognise SHOUTING, and change it to lower case where possible.

The process is at the point now where it is extremely rare to make an invalid change to a valid article. Sometimes tidying up after encountering a new form of expression goes a little awry, but it rarely leaves such an article in a worse state that it found it. My current intention is that ultimately it will scan recent changes, highlighting those quickly that have introduced errors, either in terms of policy or formatting. I'm happy to accept any feedback anyone has to offer, either in terms of additional checks it could make, or checks that it is making which aren't in line with policy, or comments of a more general nature.