|Type of site||Wiki|
|Available language(s)||21 languages|
|Owner||Internet Brands (for-profit)|
|Created by||Evan Prodromou (retired)
Michele Ann Jenkins (retired)
|Alexa rank||3,222 (April 2013)|
Wikitravel is a web-based collaborative travel guide project, based upon the wiki model, launched by Evan Prodromou and Michele Ann Jenkins in 2003. In 2006, Internet Brands bought the trademark and servers and later introduced advertising to the website. This move met opposition from users, with many German and Italian editors leaving for a newly-established wiki, Wikivoyage.
Wikitravel received a Webby Award for Best Travel Website in 2007. That same year, Wikitravel's founders began Wikitravel Press, a now-defunct project which published printed travel guides based on the Web site's content. The first print guides were released on February 1, 2008.
In 2012, a large portion of the editing community, including the founders, left and brought their contributions to the Wikivoyage project, which was relaunched as a Wikimedia Foundation-hosted project in January 2013.
Using a wiki model, Wikitravel is built through collaboration of Wikitravellers from around the globe. Articles can cover any level of geographic specificity, from continents to districts of a city. These are logically connected in a hierarchy, by specifying that the location covered in one article "is in" the larger location described by another. The project also includes articles on travel-related topics, phrasebooks for travelers, and suggested itineraries.
Wikitravel is a multilingual project available in 21 languages, with each language-specific project developed independently. The English language version leads in terms of number of articles with over 24,500 in April 2011. While the project uses the MediaWiki software, Wikitravel is not a Wikimedia project (and is in direct competition with Wikimedia's Wikivoyage project). It was begun and is operated independently.
Wikitravel travel guides are available under a free content license; while Internet Brands owns the web site and associated trademarks, contributors own the content they contribute and they agree to license that content for free use.
Wikitravel content is broadly categorised as Destinations, Itineraries, Phrasebooks, and Travel topics.
Geographical units within the geographical hierarchy may be described in articles, based on the criterion, "can you sleep there?"
The hierarchy includes:
- Continental sections (like Southeast Asia)
- Regions within countries (provinces, counties, states, groups of states etc.)
- Cities of any size, including fairly small villages if they are tourist destinations
- Districts within large cities
- National parks provided they have accommodation for the traveller
Attractions such as hotels, restaurants, bars, stores, nightclubs, tour operators, museums, statues or other works of art, city parks, town squares or streets, festivals or events, transport systems or stations, bodies of water and uninhabited islands are listed in the article for the place they're located.
An itinerary describes a group of destinations according to a temporal division rather than a spatial one and will list destinations and attractions to visit during a given amount of time, with recommended durations of stay and routes to follow.
Itineraries may cross geographical regions, but will usually have a well-defined path.
A phrasebook will comprise:
- An overview of the language, giving a brief history, scope (where it's spoken, how many speakers), alphabet or symbol set, and any other general info on the language.
- A pronunciation guide, with a description of each written symbol in the language (that is, its alphabet), and a pronunciation note for each symbol.
- A phrase list. Each entry in the phrase list should include the word or phrase being translated, the spelling in the local language symbol set as it would be seen written down, and a pronunciation cue.
Travel topics are articles that deal with a specific topic of interest to travellers that is too large or detailed to go in a specific travel guide destination page, travel tips that are so general that they apply to nearly all destinations and do not need to be in each specific travel guide, major events that occur in different places, and specialist travel information such as regional guides to Scuba diving sites.
Wikitravel was started in July 2003 by Evan Prodromou and Michele Ann Jenkins, inspired in part by Wikipedia. To allow individuals, tourism agencies, and so on to make free reprints of individual pages more easily than permitted by the GNU Free Documentation License (used by Wikipedia at that time) it used the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license. Since both Wikipedia and Wikitravel are now licensed under the Attribution ShareAlike license, appropriate content can be shared between the two so long as licensing requirements are met.
Wikitravel does not have a neutral-point-of-view requirement, as it is written from the point of view of a traveler and, instead, encourages editors to "be fair".
Wikitravel encourages original research in its content, and therefore does not generally require citation, but it does require contributions to comply with its Manual of Style, to provide an easily recognised and consistent layout and appearance, and to avoid touting.
On April 20, 2006, Wikitravel announced that it and World66 – another open-content travel guide – had been acquired by Internet Brands, a publicly traded corporation. The new owner hired Prodromou and Jenkins to continue managing Wikitravel as a consensus-based project. They explained that Internet Brands' long-term plan was for Wikitravel to continue to focus on collaborative, objective guides, while World66 would focus more on personal experiences and reviews. In response, many authors of the German language community chose to fork the German Wikitravel, which was released on December 10, 2006, as Wikivoyage. The German language Wikitravel remains active. On April 1, 2008, Internet Brands added Google advertising to Wikitravel, with an opt-out procedure for registered users.
On August 3, 2007, Prodromou, Jenkins, and long-time contributor Jani Patokallio started Wikitravel Press, a company that produces and sells print guidebooks based on material contributed to Wikitravel. The first Wikitravel Press guides, Chicago and Singapore, were officially launched on February 1, 2008. Content in these guidebooks was available under the same Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license under which Wikitravel material is licensed. The Wikitravel trademarks were licensed to Wikitravel Press, but there was otherwise no connection to Internet Brands. Wikitravel Press ceased to operate in 2011.
On January 1, 2010, the content of Wikitravel was migrated to the updated Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license.
In mid-2012, a proposal was floated by members of the editing community to fork their work at Wikitravel (forking in this context means to move editing activities and current content to a new host, in accordance with the site license) and re-merge with the travel website Wikivoyage - itself a previous fork of German and Italian language Wikitravel some years previously - and to then seek hosting of the merged sites by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation (see Community fork, 2012 below). Internet Brands opposed this move and sued one Wikitravel contributor and one Wikipedia contributor, alleging trademark infringement, unfair competition and civil conspiracy, a move opposed by both individuals and the Wikimedia Foundation as being an example of a SLAPP lawsuit - one undertaken without plausible legal grounds with a primary intent being to deter, overwhelm, or frustrate persons engaged in fully lawful actions.
- December 23, 2005: 10,000 articles across all versions.
- June 11, 2006: 10,000 articles on the English version.
- September 29, 2006: 20,000 articles across all versions.
- May 1, 2007: Wikitravel wins Webby Award for Best Travel Website.
- February 1, 2008: publication of first printed Wikitravel Press guides.
- June 16, 2008: Time magazine names Wikitravel one of the "50 Best Websites of 2008".
- November 22, 2008: 20,000 articles on the English version.
- August 21, 2009: 50,000 articles and 50,000 users across all versions.
Community fork in 2012
In 2012, after a lengthy history of dissatisfaction with Wikitravel's host and owner Internet Brands, it was proposed that the community at Wikitravel fork (split off) their work and editing activities from Wikitravel and Wikitravel Shared and - together with the existing sites at Wikivoyage - merge to create a new travel wiki to be hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, the owner of Wikipedia and a large range of other non-profit reference sites based upon wiki communities. The dissatisfaction related to long standing discontent at poor hosting, poor site updates, and excessive over-monetarization and advertising, and eventually, interference by Internet Brands in the community's activities in breach of prior agreements and understandings.
After lengthy discussion by users of all three communities and comments by their respective hosts, and confirmation by the Wikimedia Foundation that it would host a travel project if users wished, the majority of administrators and bureaucrats at Wikitravel decided to fork their existing work to Wikivoyage.
The contents of Wikitravel and its related 'Commons' (images, video and other media files) in all languages and of Wikitravel Commons were downloaded as a 'database dump' in preparation for such a migration on August 2, 2012 and as the starting point for the existing wiki. Forking is a normal or anticipated activity in wiki communities and is permitted by the Creative Commons license in use on sites such as Wikitravel; the wiki software used for Wikitravel included that facility, although Internet Brands disabled the function shortly after this date to forestall the attempt at data migration or forking. The community discussion at Wikimedia ended 23 August 2012 with 540 votes in support and 152 votes in opposition of the creation of a Wikimedia Foundation travel guide project. The wiki text was moved to Wikimedia Foundation servers on November 10, 2012.
The editing community (or those so wishing) and existing Wikitravel content will then resume under the 'Wikivoyage' name as www.wikivoyage.org, as an ad-free and not-for-profit reference site.
In August 2012 Internet Brands filed litigation against one Wikitravel administrator (Ryan Holliday) and one Wikipedia administrator (James Heilman) it accused of trademark breach and commercial misconduct, with the defendants and Wikimedia rejecting the case as an example of a SLAPP lawsuit - one undertaken without plausible legal grounds with a primary intent being to deter, overwhelm, or frustrate persons engaged in lawful actions. On November 19, 2012, the claims by Internet Brands were dismissed by the United States District Court of California.
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- , Travel Guide proposal on Wikimedia meta-wiki(Revision as of 20:12, 24 August 2012)
- , Wikivoyage Migration FAQ (Revision as of 23:15, 26 August 2012)
- Migration FAQ at Wikivoyage, 25 Oct 2012
- , Discussions (towards the bottom) on Wikitravel's Travellers' Pub regarding the migration to Wikimedia/Wikivoyage (Revision as of 01:16, 26 August 2012)
- Part of the discussion at Wikivoyage, of move to WMF 25 Oct 2012[dead link]
- Analysis of the situation, findings, discussions, and resolutions by the Wikimedia Foundation and its user community: comprehensive resources at Wikimedia.org, as at 25 October 2012
-  Request for Comment on the Travel Guide proposal at Wikimedia meta-wiki, version at time that discussion ended
- Wikimedia.org website 25 October 2012: states "In preparation of Wikivoyage becoming part of the new Wikimedia travel guide..." and "Wikivoyage e.V. plans to hand over its domain and the responsibility for operating the Wikivoyage project to the Wikimedia Foundation. A corresponding resolution has been made by the general assembly in June 2012."
- See also Wikivoyage mailing list by Wikimedia Foundation] as at 25 October 2012: "The mailing list for Wikivoyage, a planned Wikimedia project"
- Noam Cohen. "Travel Site Built on Wiki Ethos Now Bedevils Its Owner". New York Times.
- "Internet Brands Inc versus Ryan Holliday et al.". United States District Court of California. Retrieved 16 December 2012.