Wikitravel users to move to Wikipedia, upsetting former owner Internet Brands
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.”
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.
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 is a New Jersey-based reporter for Tnooz. He is also a daily contributor of consumer news to LonelyPlanet.com.
He used to work for BBC Travel, BudgetTravel.com, and Kiplinger's, and used to live in London, New York City, and Washington, DC.