The Wikimedia Foundation has decided to create a travel guide in the mold of its non-profit, user-written and search engine results-hogging Wikipedia.
The free encyclopedia often dominates the upper tiers of Google search results pages, and the launch of a still-unnamed Wikimedia travel guide could have substantial implications for travelers seeking free destination advice — and guidebook publishers such as LonelyPlanet — if the new project garners any kind of comparable clout.
Imagine a free TripAdvisor focused on travel destinations, where masses of travelers could update information during or after their hotel stay, tour or private meanderings around town, and share it with the world under the supervision of seasoned administrators.
The foundation’s board of trustees on July 11 approved a proposal to launch an advertisement-free travel guide and noted that 31 of the 48 administrators of the Internet Brands-owned Wikitravel have pledged to join forces with the Wikimedia Foundation’s travel guide website.
The foundation indicated that Wikitravel is the current leader in travel wikis, but its advertisements and monetization efforts may turn off travelers and would-be contributors.
In addition, the foundation argues that Internet Brands has failed to keep pace with the times and that Wikitravel suffers from a “lack of technical support/feature development.”
Internet Brands couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Wikivoyage is on board, too
And Wikivoyage, which broke with Wikitravel in 2006, about a year after Internet Brands acquired it, will join forces with the Wikimedia travel guide, contributing its 12,000 articles in German and 24,000 in Italian, as well as its name, URL, board and administrators.
Although Wikivoyage will be the name of the Italian and German versions of the site, travel.wikimedia.org will be used on an interim basis for the English-language version of the site until the group decides on a permanent name, the foundation says.
The proposal to launch a wiki travel guide came from “a large group of editors at Wikitravel and some from Wikipedia,” the foundation states. “The Wikitravel community is very interested in joining the Wikimedia movement and is spearheading this proposal.”
Will rebel editors help write new travel script?
Jani Patokallio, a Wikitravel admin based in Melbourne, Australia, wrote about the editors’ mass exodus from Wikitravel, and told Skift that the situation there had reached “the boiling point.”
Patokallio says the software at Wikitravel hadn’t been updated for five years and that its maps, for instance, “are static flat images.”
“It’s frozen in time,”Patokallio says. “No maps, no pinpoints and you can’t book hotels.”
He says when Internet Brands bought Wikitravel in 2005, there was optimism that the company, which also owns sites such as FlyerTalk, CruiseMates, and BikeForums, among many others, would pour some money into the site.
“Now, there’s really a second chance,” Patokallio says, referring to the Wikimedia Foundation effort.