Wikivoyage officially launches this week with support by theÂ non-profit hostÂ Wikimedia Foundation, with much of its content having migrated over fromÂ Wikitravel, a collaboratively edited destination databaseÂ run by private companyÂ Internet Brands.
Unlike the famousÂ Encyclopedia-killingÂ Wikipedia, Wikivoyage focuses on travel,Â drilling down with information on destinations, itineraries, phrasebooks, and maps.
Its ad-free,Â Creative Content-licensed information occupies a different niche from established guidebook brands, such asÂ Lonely Planet, DK andÂ Le guide du routard,Â and user-generated aggregation services like TripAdvisor.
- Wikivoyage has aÂ great mobile version. Â This uses the same systems as the massively popular mobile version of Wikipedia, and is thus fast, compatible with virtually every device, and close to bug-free.
- Wikivoyage supportsÂ scrollable, zoomable web maps, courtesy ofÂ OpenStreetMaps.Â
These are so new there arenâ€™t many around yet, but hereâ€™s an example from the Italian page for Funchalexpect to see plenty more soon.
- Wikivoyage lets youÂ collect articles into books,Â which can be turned into a PDF or EPUB for offline reading, or shipped to you as a printed book.
- No more screen scraping:Â full data dumpsÂ of Wikivoyage are href=”http://dumps.wikimedia.org/enwikivoyage/”>already available.
Thanks to the Creative Commons license, you can freely use this data for travel mash-ups and more.
- It has spam firmly under control thanks to the Foundationâ€™s years of experience in combating it.
- Last but not least, WikivoyageÂ does not suck: there are no punch-the-monkey ads, in-your-face flight booking dialogs, database backends that flake out randomly when youâ€™re trying to edit, or company-appointed admins who censor and ban at will.
That said, the site is a mostly copy of more than 26,000 articles from the ten-year-old Wikitravel.org, which has been online for 10 years.Â As of today, it supports nine languages:Â English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Swedish, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese.
How search engines will favour the one site over the other is an interesting question. As of today, Wikipedia, with its powerhouse Google PageRank, is linking extensively to Wikivoyage.
Yet it may take two years for a full switchover in search engine rankings, according to some experts.
Since the summer, there have been lawsuits between Internet Brands, contributors of travel content, and Wikimedia Foundation.
In November, a court dismissed Internet Brands’ lawsuit against one of theÂ Wikitravel contributors.
A lawsuit against another volunteer remains in play.
The court dismissed the Internet Brands lawsuits against both contributors. I regret the error.
The Foundation’s case against Internet Brands is now proceeding to trial, says the Wikimedia Foundation’s blog.