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(Process & Reasons)
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:Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Let me try and attack it first, others edit as appropriate. --[[User:Evan|Evan]] 15:46, 21 April 2006 (EDT)
:Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Let me try and attack it first, others edit as appropriate. --[[User:Evan|Evan]] 15:46, 21 April 2006 (EDT)
== I'm off ==
I'm thinking of leaving... I do not feel lucky knowing that a company will earn money with the work I did for free... [[User:Domie|Domie]] 04:16, 23 April 2006 (EDT)

Revision as of 08:20, 23 April 2006

Internet Brands, Inc

Well, to keep our trust, I think the best thing you can do is to make dumps of the database available soon. --elgaard 09:08, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

Seconded. Dumps are nice. Not that I'd do anything with it, personally. -- Nils 16:23, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
OK, I understand that, and it's good to know. I'll get back to you when I have more details. --Evan 16:15, 21 April 2006 (EDT)


Err, the press release is titled "INTERNET BRANDS ACQUIRES WIKITRAVEL AND WORLD66 ONLINE TRAVEL GUIDES". Why are you covering it up like it's something to be embarrassed about? Jpatokal 09:48, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

That's the press release; this is the announcement on Wikitravel. It's a different piece of text. It's about Wikitravel, and what this means for the project.
I guess I'm too wrapped up in the dramatic presentation of the prose (point A leads to point B and thus to point C). I'd rather unfold the story than give it away at the beginning. If it bothers you not to have it in the title, or if you think it sounds wrong, please, go ahead and change it. --Evan 10:09, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Thankfully, Wikitravel has not yet degraded to using press releases as news items. That would have been awfully quick. -- Nils 16:24, 20 April 2006 (EDT)


When will we see information about the IBI position regarding Copyleft and Creative Commons? An interesting nuance of language: the press release Jpatokal cites above correctly points out that we do stuff under CC-SA -- but it doesn't say that they do. Please clarify, soon. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 10:06, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

The Copyleft stays the same. If it's not hyped enough in their press release it's only because of their target audience. That's one of the reasons we wrote up the log book entry to explain things to the community here... Majnoona 10:10, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Is the question whether the license will stay the same for WT/W66 guides? Absolutely. There's no question. Perish the thought.
As for IB's stance: I'm pretty sure that Wikitravel and World66 are IB's first Open Content Web sites. I don't know if IB plans to have other such sites in the future, but I do know that they support our licensing and that they understand that our copyleft is a crucial part of why Wikitravel works so well. --Evan 10:14, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Does it really matter what IB thinks of Copyleft? The content is licensed BY-SA, which means what it says, all derrivative works must share alike. IB can't take it and run away. They can either work with it as is, or turf it all and do their own thing with the domain they've bought. I'm not worried about Copyleft and what happens with the content, they can't legally change that without the consent of every single person who has ever contributed. That's one of the purposes of Copyleft. --Dawnview 01:38, 21 April 2006 (EDT)

A few cynical questions

First off, it's great to get funding for servers, bandwidth, etc. However, as a cynic, I have a couple of questions.

1. How will wikitravel keep contributors providing free information to a for-profit enterprise?
(All I'm thinking right now is, why should I work for free for this company?)
2. Will paid advertising be labeled as such?
(I'm worried that not doing so will lower the value of the information provided in the mind of the reader, and ultimately, they'll go elsewhere for an unbiased, uninfluenced guide, even if they have to pay for it. Defeating the whole purpose of the project as I understood it.)
3. Will contributors get a cut if the article they wrote gets lots of traffic and therefore generates more ad revenue?
4. How much influence and censorship will the commercial enterprise have on content? Will I be able to say that the service at one of our sponsors was terrible?

Thank you. --Victoria 11:14, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

Victoria: good questions! Lemme see if I can answer them.
  1. Wikitravellers aren't providing information to IB. They're providing it to other travellers. IB's providing a platform for Wikitravellers to create and share guides. They're going to use the resource they provide (Web server, software, bandwidth) to generate ad revenue. They're not going to get in the middle of our guides.
    As for whether people should "work for free" for a commercial company: no. But Wikitravellers didn't work for me and Maj when we hosted the site personally, nor do Wikipedians work for the Wikimedia Foundation. I might also point out that a lot of other entities (mirror operators, travel-related businesses in our listings) benefit from Wikitravel guides, but they're not giving any resources back to the project.
  2. The plan for advertising is not set in stone; neither the when's, how's, or wherefore's. When the time comes to add advertising, we'll have a community discussion and work out a policy on the matter. Some things I'm sure of: advertising will be labelled as advertising. It will be separate from the guides, and it will be unobtrusive. IB's management has deep newspaper experience (LA Times), and they've reiterated that a travel guide without editorial independence isn't going to be worthwhile. Advertising that gets in the way of wiki editing, or sours our reputation, will hurt Wikitravel. That just doesn't make business sense.
  3. No. Wikitravellers will not be paid to work on their own Open Content project (at least, not by IB). Not only would it be extremely hard to work out fairly, but it would almost definitely screw up the community.
  4. As far as censorship, this will not happen. Wikitravel guides will remain editorially independent from advertising. That's what makes them valuable.
    As far as influence, I think there will be a lot, but not in the way you mean. I think having a commercial enterprise behind Wikitravel will mean that we can increase development and system administration resources, hardware, and work with other MediaWiki sites to improve the software (both in a general way, and in ways that are specific to travel). I hope that the influence will be big, and positive.
I hope those answers are clear. --Evan 11:47, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

I expected more from Wikitravel than from a newspaper. Ie. someone ordered journalists at the LA Times to not reprint the Mohammed Cartoons. Wikipedia did republish them.
And is now under US legislation. --elgaard 12:32, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
I have to agree with you on the newspaper point -- a wiki is just not comparable:
As for "now being under US lesislation", we've always been subject to laws, that's nothing new.
Majnoona 14:03, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
We have been subject to laws, but now we are stuck with certain laws. As for no editors, lets see what happens when someone threatens IB with a lawsuit over alledged copyvio on Wikitravel and the consensus here is to ignore it. Or when China wants us to censor a few pages, when served to chinese travellers. --elgaard 14:36, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Sorry, but I don't understand the difference between being subject and stuck with laws. In the past we have been clear about not breaking US/Canadian laws, so nothings changing in that regard. And copyvio stuff already doesn't belong here. Majnoona 14:45, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

I was was not advocating breaking laws. But you do not have to be guilty to be sued or just threatened. IB might handle it differently than you and Evan would have. --elgaard 14:58, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

Good points. And will the advertising influence the content? Will we see more casinos and strip clubs on Wikitravel? Or will IBI censor controversial contributions?
Will there be adverts in off-line versions?
But IBI has only bought the domain, not the content.
Experience from Open Source shows that abuses can be prevented. Because if it gets bad enough a handful of unhappy developers/contributers can fork the projekt with a new name.
That is why it is important that we gets access to the source of Wikitravel: the complete database. We could reconstruct much from Google and clones, but we migh loose history and the attribution requirement make it a mess. The Wikipedia:http:Cddb#History demonstrates the danger of not having full access to your own data. --elgaard 11:45, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

Regarding your questions, Elgaard, I want to second what Evan said about the influence of advertising on the site. My name is Stan Holt, and I work in publishing at Internet Brands. I know that one thing that attracted IB to the Wikitravel project was the objectivity you get from the collaboration of knowledgeable travelers. Lose that objectivity and the project loses its mission and, most likely, its audience.

As for controversial contributions, we view censorship as the failure of community collaboration. The Wikitravel community has done an exceptional job of managing controversial content to date, and there are no plans to mess with a successful process. --sphwiki 3:20 pm, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

Pre-Slashdot warning

I just submitted a suitably spun notification to Slashdot. I've had a fairly good hit rate there, so if Wikitravel suddenly slows to a crawl and fills up with pictures, I'm the one to blame =) Jpatokal 11:34, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

...or maybe not, because it was rejected in minutes. Sniff. Jpatokal 12:10, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Don't take it personally. My experience is that Slashdot editors read every submission on a particular topic and publish the one with the most spelling errors and incorrect information. --Evan 12:21, 20 April 2006 (EDT)


Am I permitted to pillage through World66's content on Munich? Or am I supposed to wait? Sapphire 14:27, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

You're totally permitted to pillage. Just note the date on Talk:Munich, so we can go back and give attribution later.
Actually... let's make that easier. why don't you use Template:FromWorld66, like this {{FromWorld66|europe/germany/bavaria/munich|~~~~~}}. It won't have any output (for now), but I can put some magic behind it later. --Evan 14:38, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Should there be ~~~~~ or ~~~~'s? Sapphire 15:34, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Five does a datestamp, I think. 15:37, 20 April 2006 (EDT) . --Evan 15:37, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
So... import the info and place that tag where exactly? - Andrew
Put it at the bottom of the page on Munich. --Evan 15:01, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Hi Andrew, place the tag at the bottom of the page. Usually there will be other template tags there already. HTH! Majnoona 15:04, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

Actually, I'm not so sure I want to pillage anymore. I dislike World66's Munich guide. Hmm. I wonder if anything is worth pillaging the Cincinnati article. Sapphire 15:21, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

Process & Reasons

I would be interested to know the process that brought you to this decision and why you took it. -- DanielC 14:47, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

Wikitravel and World66 have both been on the Web for a while. We're different in a lot of ways, but at the core we're both Open Content, world-wide, wiki travel guides. I think that there's a pretty natural match here.
Maj and I have always known that Wikitravel couldn't keep competing with World66 for editors, readers, and attention forever. When IB told us about their ideas for Wikitravel and World66, we knew it was just the right thing to do. Having the additional benefits of ample resources and development effort, and a management team at IB that understood the importance of a hands-off approach to the Wikitravel community and content, sealed the deal.
If this had been a different company, or a different situation, this wouldn't have happened. --Evan 15:00, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
I'm not convinced this is the right thing to do at all. A community that is only free by the promise of a commercial company isn't the way I like them. I hope a new generation will pick up where others left.
Over all, I've seen only valid points made by users, and sadly very few good points made to defend this situation. It makes a person wonder where the so called "democracy" is. -Twopeak 20:50, 22 April 2006 (EDT)
We are not only free by a promise from a company -- we can walk away with the content at any time and set up a new site. The company knows this and presumably will avoid terminally offending the community. There are plenty of us who have the technical ability to start a new wikitravel with the old content... but we see no reason to do so if we can instead cooexist with a company which will take over the annoyance and expense of running the servers. -- Colin 22:49, 22 April 2006 (EDT)

Alternative Wiki

Does anyone plan to put up another wiki that won't be for profit? I have no interest in providing free content from which others will profit. There should be an alternative. The company which bought Wikitravel is contemplating an IPO, and there will be plenty of profit off the labor we have already invested. Nkb

So, you want to do a wiki that no one will profit from in any way? Or just not the company that hosts and supports the wiki? There are plenty of mirror operators and travel businesses who benefit financially from Wikitravel today -- none of them contribute resources back to the project, though.
We've always had commercial use as part of our goals. Publishing guides (paper or digital) costs money, and it seems like insisting on non-commercial use only meant that the information that was shared on Wikitravel wouldn't be as useful to travellers.
The examples of Wikia and commercial Open Source software companies show that Open Content isn't incompatible with a commercial venture. There's room in wiki for a diverse ecology of entities -- individuals, non-profit groups, and for-profit ventures.
Don't think of it as being used by a commercial venture. Instead, think about using that commercial venture's resources to do something you wanted to do anyways. I think our goal is to provide a valuable service to the Wikitravel community so the project can do its job; any revenue that comes out of that will be fair and transparent. --Evan 15:37, 20 April 2006 (EDT)


Hm. Hm. I am not really a Wikitravel user anymore, so I can not and will not tell you how to run your site. So you sold out; congratulations.

However, I am not known for keeping my mouth shut if I have an opinion.

I do find it unfortunate to take content that other people have created and to turn it into a for-profit enterprise. I am of course perfectly aware that the cc by-sa license allows for this; but it still feels wrong. I don't suppose I am going to get a cut of the revenues for articles I helped create?

Merging with a similar project might make sense, but I wonder why you had to sell out completely. Have you considered alternatives? You could have simply merged the content under some form of agreement (or not even that - the agreement in form of the cc by-sa is already there, afterall, and there really is little point of duplicate efforts.) Or you could have made Wikitravel a part of the Mediawiki foundation (I am not saying that would have been the best of ideas, but it is an alternative approach).

I took a quick glance at and, frankly, I am underwhelmed. The textual content seems alright, the use of google maps is a nice idea but completely pointless for now (as google maps only supports UK and US); the ads steal way too much screen space and are very intrusive; I saw at least one photo which had a Copyright watermark on it; and I did note that on every page they link three times to the maintainer company - with different text in the link. If that isn't to boost their Google rank, then I don't know. It simply has a bad aftertaste. If that is what Wikitravel will be like - no thanks.

You will forgive me that I am very skeptical about your "advertisement policy", whatever it will look like. Wikitravel has not been good at all about sticking to its own policies in the past, and that was before there was a financial incentive involved. Now that cash gets waved around, I am pretty confident that the content will eventually be changed to be advertiser-friendly. It's just a matter of time. At the very least you'll need an oversights committee, and it needs to have the power to enforce the rules that the community sets up. Since the deal is already sealed, it's too late now to enforce any kind of community-control in your contracts besides what the by-sa license covers.

You talk about how the community has let you be "stewards" of the project, and how community will "continue" to make decisions and policies. When was the community involved in your decision to sell to Internet Brands? Where was the discussion, the vote, the request for feedback? Maybe I simply missed it; but a quick check of the Travellers' pub reveals no such discussion. I'll note that advertising is still listed as an explicit non-goal, which is the current community policy on the issue and which you have just overruled as the site owner.

I guess it's okay for you to set yourself and your wife up in what may seem like your dream-jobs; afterall everybody likes a steady paycheck. But can't you at least stop the euphemisms?

As an aside, I would really like to know your traffic and resource usage statistics. I can't see Wikitravel using a significant amount of either right now, even considering what a horribly inefficient beast MediaWiki is.

-- Nils 16:01, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

Hi, Nils. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I know you haven't been a big contributor to Wikitravel in a while, but you've been an important member of the project in the past and I'm glad you had the time to say what you wanted to say.
Traffic info is at .
Wikitravel guides continue to be Open Content and you can keep 100% of the revenue you make from them.
Wikitravel is not going to become like World66 or Fark or Flickr or digg or Yahoo! or Wanadoo or boingboing or any other Web site. It's going to remain like Wikitravel, for now and into the future. The last thing we want to do is pull the rug out from under people.
Our decision about what to do with our role in Wikitravel was our own. We considered a lot of options, and becoming part of a commercial venture that understands Wikitravel's way of doing things seemed to us the best one. It's now up to the Wikitravel community to evaluate the resources we've been providing and will provide in the future. All we ask is that they keep an open mind and evaluate us on results and not prejudices and preconceptions. --Evan 16:33, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Thanks for the stats; that's hardly what I would call massive traffic though.
As for the rest, I still think you're talking in euphemisms. You're presenting a done deal to the community and the choice is basically to accept it and go on as if nothing happened and swallow whatever IB will shove down Wikitravel's throat, or to go someplace else, fork the project, and split the userbase; hardly something that anybody who actually feels part of a community would be too thrilled about. (And without dumps, it cannot be done anyway, but I have no doubt you will provide those later on just on principle.)
Actually asking your community for their input before the deal would have put your decision on more solid ground. It needn't have been public or involved everybody, though that and a vote would of course have been the nicest from a community point of view.
Your decision about your own role is fine and I would never question it. However, that is not what happened. You didn't just hire up with IB; you sold Wikitravel. And I do question you talking of respecting community decisions and policies on the one hand, and your handling of the wikitravel sell-out on the other hand. You cannot have it both ways, Evan - either you involve your community, or you don't, but don't say you do when you don't. If the rules of Wikitravel are, "Evan is the boss, and he overrules all if he feels like it", then put that in the policy. Be honest with your users.
Damn now you made me try to tell you how to run your site afterall. ;) Time for me to go back into retirement. -- Nils 17:32, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

What does IB own?

Following from section above, Thoughts.

Well the thing is that it's still not clear to me what has been sold. Copyrights are copyrights, and are the property of their owners. For instance until it's replaced (maybe it will be, maybe it won't) I happen to own the copyright for the Wikitravel logo. So I'm pretty sure that hasn't been sold to IB. Of course they have as much right to use it under the CC-by-sa licence I granted as anyone does. I don't think I could claim to own the Trademark however. I think we will have to discuss trademarks.

I also own the copyright to some maps of Paris (which aren't complete). You own the copyright to a very nice photo of the Eiffel Tower. These have not been sold to IB.

I guess the right to host this particular (and most central) Wikitravel site now belongs to IB. Fine and dandy, let them pay the electricity bills. Let them collect any add revenue. Big whup. If however I or say some search engine company or you or my sister were to decide to host a Wikitravel mirror which also happened to copy all submissions back to IB's server, I don't see a thing IB could do about it under the license. I guess they could refuse the submissions, but that wouldn't be very smart would it?

So let me return to the original point: What exactly do you think IB owns? -- Mark 18:00, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

So how did your logo get on the website which is not CC-by-sa? --elgaard 06:44, 21 April 2006 (EDT)
Surely you already know the answer to this. It's an image. A web page you put an image on is not a derivative work. They can use my CC-by-sa licensed image there just as any other website could. Note that I didn't choose the CC-by-nc-sa license. Did you miss the point where I mentioned that they have as much right to use it as anybody else? -- Mark 08:09, 21 April 2006 (EDT)
The web page might be a collective work. But:
  • They do not credit you according to the by-clause
  • They do not include a URL to the CC license
  • On the terms page thay claim to own the copyrigt to the Wikitravel logo ("Unless otherwise specified, all materials appearing on this site, including site design, text, graphics, logos, images, icons interfaces, and the selection, assembly and arrangements thereof are the sole property of Internet Brands, Inc.") --elgaard 10:30, 21 April 2006 (EDT)
Basically a domain name. -- Giorgio 18:23, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Just my 2-cents on all this. First I think at any time Evan and Maj wanted to, they could have said "Gee, getting tired of this Wikitravel stuff and we are going to turn off the servers and forget about it". I don't think they would have done that, but the point is at any point in time the "owner" could do that. I don't think IB will do that either. As far as what IB owns, first they own all the expenses and they they have two new employees that will be working even harder for Wikitravel then they have in the past. Why? Because they will be full time and it is in their personal finacial interest to see it succeed. Next, IB now own the servers, bills, etc. Next, IB now owns the right to place ads on the site. I for one think that is a good thing. Placement of do, see, sleep and eat ads on the site will be helpful. Look at google, the ads don't really get in the way. I believe is a good deal. Now, who owns the content? We all do.... it is CC-SA 1.0 and everything I have donated has gone to everyone. (small bow, and you are welcome) Tom Holland (xltel) 18:41, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
Except that Evan promised not to stop the servers and forget about it on Wikitravel talk:Technical_details. That was when we discussed having Wikimedia Foundation host Wikitravel. Maybe this is the reason for not coorporating with Wikimedia Foundation. --elgaard 19:12, 20 April 2006 (EDT)

We haven't seen a contract. But the domain, possible the trademark. Ie. could the french users move to their own server? Maybe software such as maintenance scripts that Evan has not published yet. And of course possession of the database. I hope that do not try to take advantage of the database that we created, but no one promised dumps yet. --elgaard 18:54, 20 April 2006 (EDT)
I can't speak for Evan, but he has in various forums made it clear that he's gotten this message loud and clear. I think it's in the transcript of the admin's meeting. I suspect that it's next on his TODO list after stabilizing the db. -- Mark 01:08, 21 April 2006 (EDT)

What does IB own in terms of Wikitravel policies? They own the servers, domain, etc, but not content. I mean, it's a bit wierd if Wikitravellers make policy on someone else's property. If Wikitravllers, by the methods we've always used, decide on some policy, can it be overruled? --Dawnview 01:40, 21 April 2006 (EDT)
I don't see how, considering the whole site could be overruled (forked) by Wikitravellers if necessary. If IB were to decide to overrule our decisions they certainly understand that risk first. -- Mark 05:52, 21 April 2006 (EDT)

Editorial content about Web Sites

In the past we've debated about whether we should list links to websites. I think that since we are now going to have advertising we must for editorial balance be able to discuss websites about travel.

Some folks have objected that we have to have an objective rule about what sort of content goes in and what stays out. By consensus this objective rule has been that we can have links to primary sources of information on the web.

That's all well and good, however we now will have links somewhere else on the page, which are almost certainly going to be to hotel reservation sites and flight bookers etc. They will mostly not probably be to primary sources.

Therefore we have to have room to editorialize about the quality of these things without having to do some kind of crazy workaround. If I want to write about web sites through which I can book a hotel in London say, I have to do this now:

There are a huge number of websites through which you can book a London hotel, most of them are pretty much the same: You pay up front and take a printed receipt to the hotel. There is one stand-out that just books the reservation normally, allowing you to pay at the hotel, but you'll have to guess which one that is since we don't mention websites on our destination guides. Oh, also watch out for... oops we don't talk about the bad ones either.

Actually, that's not quite the current situation. Really I'd have to write:

There are a huge number of websites through which you can book a London hotel, most of them are pretty much the same: You pay up front and take a printed receipt to the hotel. There is one stand-out that just books the reservation normally, allowing you to pay at the hotel, check out the article on Finding accomodation and do a search for "London". Oh, also watch out for... oops we don't talk about the bad ones either.

So now that we are going to have ads on the pages somewhere I think we have to give ourselves the ability to provide some advice to our readers about which websites are good, which are bad, and which are run-of-the-mill. -- Mark 08:45, 21 April 2006 (EDT)

That only makes some sense for the website. Internet Brands offline guides might or might not have ads. There will certainly be off-line guides that have no ads or different ads. There are other websites that carry Wikitravel material that have different ads. In the future there could be Wikitravel websites with no ads. I think we should just tell people to read our guide and not the ads. Our readers should know that the ads have no relation to quality but are based on who will pay for them. --elgaard 10:11, 21 April 2006 (EDT)
I think that so long as the advertising is clearly delineated from our content, there is no need to alter our linking policy. People are used to the idea that ads are not endorsed by the media they are attached to. -- Colin 12:09, 21 April 2006 (EDT)

About, FAQ etc.

Don't you guys think that such significant announcement should be more widely publicized and make it to our About and FAQ pages as soon as possible? Since those pages are shared by all language versions, I would like to hear your comments before plunging forward and editing them. Ricardo (Rmx) 15:19, 21 April 2006 (EDT)

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Let me try and attack it first, others edit as appropriate. --Evan 15:46, 21 April 2006 (EDT)

I'm off

I'm thinking of leaving... I do not feel lucky knowing that a company will earn money with the work I did for free... Domie 04:16, 23 April 2006 (EDT)