wikitravel
750 days ago
 

Wikitravel users to move to Wikipedia, upsetting former owner Internet Brands

UPDATE:

A Wikimedia Foundation official says:

“Although an active conversation has been taking place on ‘request for comment’ discussion page about WikiTravel, the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees has not yet officially stated that this project would be created.”

Trustee statement here.

ORIGINAL:

Users of Wikitravel, the collaboratively edited destination database, will migrate to a new travel community that will be hosted by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, abandoning the platform run by private company Internet Brands, a source tells Tnooz.

Internet Brands, a publisher that also runs FlyerTalk, CruiseMates, Frugal Travel Guy, and other consumer-facing websites, will continue to operate Wikitravel as a platform, but it seems likely many of the users will move to the new community, which will be spotlighted by high-traffic Wikipedia.

Internet Brands will also continue to run the competitor site World66, another wiki-based collaborative editing technology. But that site looks like a ghost town currently.

wikitravel

Battle brewing

There’s been a lively tension between the users of Wikitravel and owner Internet Brands, which have had different visions for the property.

Wikitravel has long grappled with a lack of advertising, while World66.com has primarily monetized with Google adwords and link revenues from hotel-booking partners.

Some industry observers have speculated that Wikitravel may use its do-follow links in a way that might hurt the Internet Brands property. Such is the peril of buying content that’s Creative Commons-licensed.

Internet Brands has faced rebellions from its travel communities before. Users of another site it owns, FlyerTalk, recently left to form rival site MilePoint, powered by FlyerTalk refugees, such as Randy Petersen and Gary Leff.

Have wiki, will travel

Wikitravel was founded in 2003 by Evan Prodromou and Michele Ann Jenkins of Montreal. In April 2006, they sold their free, open, travel guide website to Internet Brands of Los Angeles in April 2006.

Wikitravel has stood out from competitor sites by being user-edited, which has the beneficial side-effect of allowing for deep-coverage of less-visited destinations that aren’t profitable for guidebook publishers to cover well. Case in point: Minot, North Dakota, a small town of about 41,000 people, which has a thorough entry on Wikitravel.

Wikitravel comes in several languages, such as Hungarian. All languages will be offered help to move to the new domain if they wish. German and Italian communities on Wikivoyage are also expected to join the effort.

 
 
Sean O'Neill

About the Writer :: Sean O'Neill

Sean O’Neill is a New Jersey-based reporter for Tnooz. He's also a regular contributor to BBC Travel.

Follow him on Twitter, Google+, and his personal site .

 

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  1. Bill Smithers

    @ Richard, completely agree. Wikivoyage seems to be be just a copy of of both sites with little to no original content

     
  2. Richard Renterly

    It seems to me that wikitravel is still alive and kicking and wikivoyage is a ghost-town.

     
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  10. Dave

    Well in lieu of my first comment above and the impending plight of someone pulling the plug on one of the Wikitravels I managed to find an offline “version” of wikitravel.

    http://code.google.com/p/oxygenguide/ it’s 75mb no images.

    Hyperlinks work and aside from some annoying formatting issues it works both on pc and android (just installed) quite happy now!

     
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  22. Stuart McD

    I read elsewhere that the fork of WikiTravel, lets call it NewWikiTravel, won’t be carrying advertising. So if that’s correct, we’ve got a situation where an organisation (Wikipedia) which is already forever moaning about never having sufficient funds is going to become NewWikiTravel’s saviour, yet NewWikiTravel is pointedly going to throw it’s (primary perhaps) income stream out of the boat before sailing over.

    On top of this you have the pointed SEO challenges, outlined by Sam Daams above — the loss of a truckload of inbound links which probably contribute a not-insignificant human traffic stream alongwith a substantial potential duplicate content issue. Sure NewWikiTravel will beat IB over the head with their precious anti-competitive Wikipedia links and I assume most of the active contributors will be in the boat as well.

    Two thoughts:

    1) Internetbrands must be an absolute nightmare to work with that this last-ditch, stagger across the road for a final drink approach is the only available option

    2) Where can I get some popcorn around here.

     
    • Sean

      Hi, Stuart,
      Thanks for your comment.! Yes, there is no advertising on any Wikimedia wiki, so the fork will not have any either. But as others have noted, that doesn’t necessarily preclude future booking engine links, printed guide sales, and other monetization options.

      The SEO challenges will be formidable, for sure.

      Best,
      Sean

       
  23. Kimberly

    VirtualTourist.com is a fantastic website for user generated travel content. Just type in a destination in the travel guides section, and you can search for things to do, see photos, read tips on transportation, catch up on warnings and dangers and more. It’s great because you can see the profile of each person who is posting the content so you know it’s legit and it also has the date from when it was posted so you get an understanding of how fresh the content is.

     
  24. Cleo Kirkland

    Wow. Doesn’t seem like there are a ton of websites scraping the entire articles for their own use. I’m surprised, bc it’s awesome content. Thanks for clarifying Samuel.

     
  25. Cleo Kirkland

    So each entry (including the copy) is under the creative commons license or is it just the pictures? If the license applies to the entire entry, then someone could just scrape the copy on their site as long as they give proper attribution. Right?

     
  26. Sam Daams

    First up, for those that don’t know, we run a cc licensed wiki travel guide (custom software, not wikimedia), so consider my comment a little biased at the very least :)

    One thing that will be very fascinating to see purely from an SEO point of view is which of the sites gets the google ranking now that they will essentially be identical (same software/content etc). Wikitravel has the history but if Wikimedia really axes all the follow’d links on Wikipedia, and replaces them with links to their own travel guide (anti-competitive?), then it’ll be interesting to see which site google chooses as the authority, because the other will likely have a nice panda penalty hanging over it… In the beginning it could well still be WT as the authority, as it will have links from multiple domains which *should* win out, but Wikipedia is a rather strong linking pal of course. Luckily for WT, too many links from one site typically get discounted/ignored, so the new site won’t get off to quite the hot start it would have 3 or 4 years ago, when the big G hadn’t clamped down quite so much on that… Then again, it is Wikipedia and each language is its own subdomain so that should help whoever they link to (provided anchor text is the same).

    Going to be quite the interesting case study for the SEO community in any case, and could provide some fascinating insight into panda penalties and how google determines authority/original source I’m sure!

    I noted in that blog post that IB isn’t providing dumps of the content, so will each new entry be manually copy/pasted over?

     
    • Sean

      Hi, Sam,
      Thanks for the thorough analysis with a fresh take that was missing from the original post.

      http://www.travellerspoint.com has fantastic user-generated travel guides, too, so you must know what you’re talking about. :-)

      Best,
      Sean

       
    • Jani Patokallio

      While full data dumps aren’t available, Wikitravel does provide API access, so there’s a complete and up to date mirror of all data just waiting for its new home.

       
  27. Stavros

    Interesting stuff. Wikitravel’s coverage is still very uneven, not up to the level of Wikipedia. For example, Ioannina, Greece, which is a historic city with several interesting destinations for tourists (Michelin Green Guide gives 2 stars to two of them) has hardly any coverage, while Larissa, which has essentially nothing of interest to tourists (Michelin has nothing), gets covered well. This is the nature of volunteer work — Larissa was lucky enough to have an enthusiast (probably local), while Ioannina hasn’t gotten one yet.

    By the way, your link to the “thorough entry” on Minot goes to Wikipedia, not to Wikitravel.

     
    • Sean O'Neill

      Sean O'Neill

      Hi, Savros,
      Thanks for the insightful comment. And I’ve corrected the link for Wikitravel to Minot. (Much obliged for the catch.)
      Sean

       
  28. Dave

    I’ve used wikitravel quite a lot over the years. Most things on it have been quite good. Though I have noted a of it being quite dated.

    It would be a true shame if Wikitravel.org vanishes in all this struggle. Makes me want to dedicate some time time and space to download the whole thing before it’s too late. (Yea, I know).

     
    • Sean O'Neill

      Sean O'Neill

      Hey Dave,
      Thanks for your comment.
      It’ll be also interesting what happens to the Wikitravel Books arm of the operation.
      Best,
      Sean

       
    • Jani Patokallio

      No need to worry about the content: as it’s all Creative Commons licensed, every last bit of it can and will be quite legally copied over to the new copy.

       
 
 

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