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Wikimedia Launches WikiVoyage (wikivoyage.org)
102 points by noahtkoch on Jan 16, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 22 comments

Explanation: WikiTravel fell into the hands of a company called Internet Brands, users got dissatisfied, they forked the wiki on August 2012 and created WikiVoyage under Wikimedia's wing. It offers the same content as WikiTravel up to that date.

Long story: http://gyrovague.com/2012/07/12/wikitravel-editors-abandon-i...

I occasionally check in on and modify the WikiTravel page for Singapore (e.g. to warn about scammy shops here), and when I heard about the impending launch of WikiVoyage, I switched over right away. It seemed odd to me that an open, collaborative resource like WikiTravel should be owned by a profit-driven entity that had acquired it and was trying to monetise it. The lawsuit from that entity was the rotten cherry on the top.

Congratulations to Wikimedia, the WikiVoyage team, and jpatokal (and thanks for making the Singapore article so comprehensive and accurate). I hope the migration is smooth and the SEO quickly works itself out in WV's favour. I for one will be linking to it whenever I have the opportunity.

Open, collaborative resources and being commercial aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. Fundamentally, open content isn't that different from open source, and while it's not easy to monetize free things without being evil, it's certainly possible: see eg. Red Hat. And WikiHow (http://www.wikihow.com/Main-Page) is a great example of how you can run a for-profit wiki without selling out to the dark side, see eg. their About page: http://www.wikihow.com/wikiHow:About-wikiHow

But you do need a long-term perspective and a genuine rapport with the community, which is why 'traditional' companies taking over open source projects and adopting corporate command-and-conquer strategies to run them tend to crash and burn. Oracle and the trail of devastation they've wreaked with OpenOffice and MySQL is probably the canonical example, and Internet Brands is their open content equivalent.

And oh, thanks for the thanks ;)

It's certainly possible, as you said, but it takes a philosophically aligned company to do it, and those are a rare breed indeed - very much the exception to the norm. By default I'd assume any traditional profit-oriented company that acquires an open resource to be likely to mess things up as it tries to extract revenue. (This is directed at @mmahemoff too - StackOverflow is a good counterexample, but again an exception.)

I look forward to location-enabled WV guides/maps on mobile, if that ever becomes available - that would be amazingly useful. I'm often tempted to look towards tourist-oriented functionality in my own web/app project, but would like it if the market winner turned out to be an open resource rather than a crowdsourced-yet-profit-driven one.

'welcome :)

"open, collaborative resource like WikiTravel should be owned by a profit-driven entity that had acquired it and was trying to monetise it"

Same could be said of StackOverflow and Github (Stack and Git weren't acquired, but are both VC-funded). Many wikis are profit-driven too. Open collaboration takes time and resources. Wikipedia shows it can be achieved as a non-profit, but I don't think it's surprising that it can be achieved by a commercial organisation too, as long as its open about it and respectful of contributions.

From: http://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Compton

WARNING: Compton suffers from a very high crime rate due to the gang violence, which is well-documented. It is recommended to stay no more than as long as necessary. Danger increases during the night time.


Well, it is helpful, if you didn't grow up in the US listening to NWA and thus eren't aware that Compton's synonymous with "inner city ghetto".

But yes, there's a fair bit of useless "advice" on the site. It's human nature to try to be helpful, even when much of the advice offered is common sense. Hence this policy:


As someone who isn't from the US, yes it is helpful, but that being said anyone who's used wikitravel/wikivoyage in the past would take one look at that page and realise that not many people visit and if they do they haven't found much to add to the site.

That's usually a fairly decent indication that there are better and more interesting places to visit.

I'm not really sure what you are trying to point out here? Don't you thing that "very high" crime rate warrants warning?

Wikivoyage is already working out great. Most of the contributors have moved over to the site including Evan (one of the co-founders).

But one of the real benefits of the change has been that there is now integration with the other Wikimedia sites: the same login that one uses to edit Wikipedia works to edit Wikivoyage, and a fair few Wikipedia admins and regulars have jumped in to help Wikivoyage out.

In addition, Wikivoyage now has direct inclusion of images from Wikimedia Commons, so if you are writing a travel guide, you can just hop over to Commons and find an image, rather than having to upload your own like you did on Wikitravel. And there is an international community of people who curate that image collection.

Now that the contributors have mostly moved over, Wikitravel are now just descending into spammy oblivion, while Wikivoyage adds new and fresh content, fixes mistakes and so on.

All the while Wikitravel employees seem to be going around spamming blog posts and posting about how this is all an "anti-capitalist" conspiracy against them. Well, sorry, it's pure capitalism: if your service sucks, people will go to another provider. That your service sucks so much that you are being beaten by a non-profit... well, just the free market at work.

Perhaps I'm missing something. How is this different from WikiTravel?

It's a fork, but it's better: http://gyrovague.com/2013/01/14/free-travel-guide-wikivoyage...

TL;DR: Works well on mobile, has web maps, exports to PDF/EPUB/printed books, provides data dumps, is more active (pretty much the entire Wikitravel community jumped ship) and doesn't suck.

WikiVoyage is a fork of WikiTravel, which is not a Wikimedia Foundation site.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikivoyage#Additional_languages...

WikiTravel was purchased by Internet Brands, the same company that owns FitDay and FlyerTalk. The community clashed with the new owners and the Wikimedia Foundation agreed to maintain a fork.

Too bad. I really prefer the name WikiTravel. Clearer and simpler.

It's not different, except for a few ads on each page.

The main difference is that wikipedia pages will now link to wikivoyage instead of wikitravel.

Google will still have wikitravel at the top of the search rankings for some time so it is only a matter of time to see who wins.

<cynical> Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. </cynical>

If you read; http://gyrovague.com/2013/01/14/free-travel-guide-wikivoyage...

You will read how it is going to take on Tripadvisor et al. I really don't expect it to.

I just hope it doesn't turn into the stupid edit warring problems that exists with wikipedia.

Author of that link here. Did you actually read it? I specifically state that it's not the "nightmare" the media's making it out to be.

Wikimedia is funded entirely by donations and the vast majority of them go to pay for Wikipedia. While adding eg. hotel bookings to Wikivoyage would be a near-guaranteed money spinner and, if done right, a genuine enhancement to the site, it would be an uphill battle to get the occasionally rabidly anti-capitalist wider Wikimedia community to accept this taint of Mammon. ...

This also explains why, as a travel industry insider myself, I don’t think Wikivoyage poses an existential threat to TripAdvisor, Google or, for that matter, Lonely Planet: it’s simply not playing the same game. Quite the contrary, it promises to be a great resource of information for everybody. In the same way that Google pulls in data for Wikipedia for its search results and Lonely Planet’s website uses images sourced from Wikimedia Commons, other travel guides will be able to complement their own content with additional data from Wikivoyage.

Disclaimer: I work for Lonely Planet, but these are my opinions, not the company's.

It works surprisingly good. Tried it out for my hometown "Suceava", a small forgotten city from northern Romania. The information one gets is really useful and seems to be mostly accurate.

When I went to Budapest (this summer), it contained invaluable information about the city and some scams that ticket inspectors pull. I was able to avoid it and help a few fellow passengers because of Wikitravel (now Wikivoyage). I would definitely recommend it, it was entirely accurate in my case, and for the few Greek cities I skimmed.

mostly accurate?

In the world of travel guides, mostly accurate is pretty much the gold standard.

I can't help it.

It's Wikivoyage, not WikiVoyage.

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