Wikivoyage talk:Don't tout

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See also: Wikivoyage talk:Don't tout/Archive

Hotel marketers[edit]

We've struggled with hotel marketers for some time (see Special:Contributions/66.194.200.166 for one example today), and have taken increasingly hard lines against these users. Marketers are paid to promote a business, and thus any information added is biased in a way that is difficult to trust, so I'm wondering if it is time to update the don't tout policy to state that marketers may update existing listings to correct factual inaccuracies, but they SHOULD NOT add new listings. Since we're not a yellow pages, adding every Hampton Inn in Jacksonville isn't a particularly valuable edit, nor is adding every Vagabond Inn in Nevada and California.

Specifically, I'd propose updating policy with something like the following:

If you are working for a hotel chain or an agency helping to market hotels, please do not add new listings to Wikivoyage articles. You are welcome to correct factual details in existing listings (such as incorrect URLs or phone numbers), but Wikivoyage is not a yellow pages, so adding every individual location for a hotel brand is not in the best interest of the traveler. Accounts that add multiple chain hotel listings should expect to see contributions removed, and in extreme cases the account may be blocked from further editing. If a hotel is truly exceptional, or if a city has a very limited number of lodging options, please propose new listings on the article's talk page, but do not add it yourself.

That's a bit harsh, but additions from marketers aren't edits that I trust, so I think this may be something we now want to take a hard line against. -- Ryan • (talk) • 17:18, 30 January 2013 (UTC)

Limiting these to one listing added by any given owner might be an option; that would address those who list the same property under multiple headings (usually eat/drink and sleep if there's a restaurant in the hôtel), the same property under multiple districts, or multiple properties under common ownership (the chain hôtel problem). Prohibiting a merchant from including statements of opinion (the hôtelier's opinion of their own hovel is worthless to us) is also advisable. K7L (talk) 22:34, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
Just to clarify, I'm not proposing changes for individuals that add a single listing - this proposal is meant solely to apply to the hotel chain marketers as called out in Wikivoyage:Don't tout#Marketers and SEOs. -- Ryan • (talk) • 22:41, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
That still leaves the problem of chains removing negative info about their properties; I recall one in the last few days where an Embassy Suites removed a complaint about an unstable Internet connection in-room. K7L (talk) 22:46, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
I think this wording makes sense, and I was meaning to start this discussion myself. Removing an addition by a marketer shouldn't be something a patroller has to justify each time beyond a pointer to this page, and a "hard line" wording like this would take that extra work off our janitorial team's shoulders.
To K7L, business promoters are already prohibited from removing negative reviews about their businesses. --Peter Talk 22:56, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
The way you've worded this, I know that some marketer will try to write off every negative review as a "factual inaccuracy" and attempt to "correct" it. Annoying, but not a surprise to anyone. K7L (talk) 23:40, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
Does the following address your concerns? The following would be a complete replacement for the text now present in the "Marketers and SEOs" section:
Note: Wikivoyage implements rel="nofollow" so there is no SEO benefit to listing a website here.
Because there is an inherent conflict of interest when someone is being paid for their edits, if you are working for a hotel chain, a marketing agency, or a similar organization then you may not add multiple listings for that business to Wikivoyage articles. Wikivoyage is not a yellow pages, so adding every individual location for a hotel brand or restaurant chain is not an appropriate use of this site. If a hotel is truly exceptional, or if a city has a very limited number of lodging options available, you may propose a listing to be added on the article's talk page, but do not add the listing yourself. Marketers that add multiple business listings should expect to see their contributions reverted, and in the worst case repeated violations of this policy may lead to blocking of the contributor's account and possibly blacklisting of the business in question.
Marketers and paid editors may make factual corrections to existing hotel listings, but these changes should be strictly limited to non-subjective information such as URLs or phone numbers. As explained above, do not remove negative information from a listing without first discussing the change; if a listing states that a hotel has a dated interior but the property has undergone recent renovation, point out this fact on the article's talk page and let someone else update the listing.
-- Ryan • (talk) • 00:15, 31 January 2013 (UTC)
I'm good with the above language. -Shaundd (talk) 05:29, 31 January 2013 (UTC)
Looks good. Do it. K7L (talk) 10:28, 31 January 2013 (UTC)
Done. -- Ryan • (talk) • 18:48, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

Local additions[edit]

I think that marketing people from chain head offices should be encouraged not to make edits themselves, but to get the on-site management of the hotel to sign up and make the edit. The manager of an individual hotel is much more likely to take care over the edit and could also make useful edits to the rest of the city article. The local hotel manager may realise that if the whole city article is improved, more people may come to town and stay in the hotel. This should also reduce the common mistake of marketeers of editing the wrong page - like listing hotels in South Dakota on Aberdeen in Scotland. AlasdairW (talk) 00:01, 31 January 2013 (UTC)
Just so long as the local people put the local attractions and activities in "see" and "do" instead of in the hotel's "sleep" listing (and resist the temptation to claim to be 'near' every landmark in a city and every adjacent municipality)... and please no CVB-style spam where the entire town's description is turned into fluff like (in "Eat":) "(Town) is fast becoming a dining destination for tourists from throughout the US and Canada. Offering a variety of unique locally owned and operated restaurants on the historic Main Street, dining in (town) offers options for every pallet and pocketbook... Main Street is a protected Historic District and all the buildings retain their original and unique charm. No trip to (region) is complete without a stroll through (region)’s dining Mecca: Main Street, (town)." or (in "Get out/Go next":) "If you find yourself in (destination), it's likely for the isolation and natural beauty of the area. With little surrounding towns or villages, getting out should be the last thing to worry about while on vacation in this beautiful, un-disturbed, natural wonder." If anything, the CVB fluff is worse as it turns an entire article into advertising and hype. K7L (talk) 02:46, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

I think it would be efficient if we channelled business promoters energies and enthusiasm to our own ends. I think we should go a little bit further and I propose an addition to our existing policy:

In addition to the guidelines above, note that business promoters must format listings correctly. Other editors will fix mistakes made by good faith contributors who add only one or two listings, but if you are adding listings to promote your business, then it is up to you to make sure they adhere to the Wikivoyage style guidelines and our goals. You must include full information, including price ranges, a properly formatted address (do not include city/state or province/postal code) and a useful, factually accurate description of the business with correctly formatted phone numbers; otherwise, your contributions will probably be consistently removed.

Does anybody think that would be too much to ask? -- Alice 07:39, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

Um, a business shouldn't be beyond the "add only one or two listings" if they're merely adding themselves for promotional purposes; two listings is already one too many. The only thing we need to say about adding every hotel in an entire chain to the guide with a single-purpose account is "don't do it". Properly-formatted spam is still spam. K7L (talk) 10:10, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

Shortcuts and headings[edit]

While I think they were well-intentioned, I don't think the recent layout changes to this policy page were an improvement. What was once a reasonably concise list is now a dozen sub-sections, apparently done for the purpose of adding shortcut links that I don't think were needed - pointing someone to this policy page is generally sufficient, without a need to link specifically to the "Avoid superlatives" bullet.

I don't want to simply revert this change as others might prefer this format, but my preference would be to remove the sub-headings and go back to the shorter list format, which I think was more readable. As to the shortcuts, I think shortcuts can be valuable, but we don't need links to every sub-section of every policy page, and should (IMHO) reserve them for sub-sections that are actually being cited in edit summaries or on talk pages. -- Ryan • (talk) • 07:12, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

Atheistically unpleasant, and likely to be underutilized. I think the older version was better. --Inas (talk) 07:47, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

Naturally and as per my edit summary, I disagree on at least two grounds:

1) Formatting into subsections rather than bullet points means that more precise shortcuts can be used that link to the specific policy. eg: better to write "1url only, please" or "don't shout" or please don't qjump" in the edit summary rather than an imprecise and generalised "don't tout" where the target may not quickly grasp what the heck you're on about. This formatting really makes it much easier to give succinct but exact policy advice and I do think that, at least in this case, utility is more important than your feeling of what is aesthetically more pleasing.

2) The "angels" can quickly scan down the list of contents to get the coconut shell of this policy.

Please remember that in the months to come and as we become vastly more popular and well known to business promoters, this may save a lot of patrolling time and be extremely educational. -- Alice 08:05, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

I think we should return to the old format. We need one policy don't tout, not a dozen policies with unlikely names (as shortcuts) in mainspace like multiple and qjump. Usually, a problematic listing is going to trigger more than one of these (excessive multiposting, owner posting opinion of own establishment, fluff/words to avoid, excessive length and at the same time key factual info missing) as, when these are fluff, they're pure fluff all the way through. We're already needing to cite multiple pages, wbo but don't tout and these are words to avoid in listings. Don't add a dozen more fragments to the list. The message needs to be short, direct and complete. K7L (talk) 10:01, 31 January 2013 (UTC)
Agreed; people pointed here should read the whole policy, not just a single section anyway. Same with Wikivoyage:Measurements. LtPowers (talk) 14:10, 31 January 2013 (UTC)
I agree. But these shortcuts are introduced everywhere, not just here. I already started a discussion at Wikivoyage talk:Shortcuts#Shortcuts for everything. Globe-trotter (talk) 14:12, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

Since there is some concern about the layout changes I've reverted to the earlier version. -- Ryan • (talk) • 18:41, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

Is it the way to do of all the Administrators of Wikivoyage[edit]

Swept in from the pub

I'm a contributor for several months after my last add on the page of "Les Saintes" I received this post:

[les Saintes]

And this action against me: MediaWiki talk:Spam-blacklist#craigarush dot com, lessaintes-booking dot com

Is "Ikan Kekek" alone when he insultes the "integrity" of a regular contributor or it is the new commun spirit of Wikivoyage ?

Les Saintes (talk)

This looks like you are trying to advertise your own business on Wikivoyage? You may want to look at Wikivoyage:Welcome, business owners and Wikivoyage:Don't tout. There are also restrictions on what we link - we may link to the "official" site for a destination or an individual venue, but do not link to booking agencies or other middlemen. We also avoid links to other travel guides. If you wish to post factual and fair information about a city or destination that primarily benefits the traveller, by all means go ahead... but please avoid promotional hype and blatant advertising. K7L (talk) 00:53, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
URLs aren't put on the spam blacklist except in cases of repeated abuse, which you can see I detailed. You are not an official governmental site and cannot promote your site here. Ikan Kekek (talk) 04:06, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

Please stop the bullshits and ask around U We are in charge to promote the tourim activity in Les Saintes... we are not a real estate!!!! or a travel Agency !!!!?????

The "tourist" "Books" directly with the Owners, there's no fees, no charge or no "Strange threat" behind this site...

Please have a look on the site to understand how its work!

Sorry for your "plot Theory" we hare not the rights guys for you !

Les Saintes

I'd suggest that maybe you shouldn't be in charge of tourism of Les Saintes if you can't help swearing on a public website. Andrewssi2 (talk) 14:55, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
Furthermore, Les Saintes, I would suggest that if you want to continue editing Wikivoyage that you refrain from behaving in an abusive manner toward other editors. Civility is something that is taken very seriously here, and if you can't control yourself we can and will ban you from editing, so consider yourself warned. -- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 15:55, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
Can we slow down a bit here?
Yes, this user seems to be advertising a web site in a way that violates our policy at what we link. He claims it is the official site; I'm willing to assume good faith (the claim is made honestly), but I'd need evidence before actually believing it. Googling "Les Saintes tourist office" turns up several other sites making similar claims and I cannot tell if any are valid. Our Guadeloupe article links to an apparently official site which has a Les Saintes section; until and unless I see evidence otherwise, I'll assume that is the official site for Les Saintes, hence the only one we should link to.
On the other hand, checking the user's contribution record, I do see positive contributions. K7L says above "If you wish to post ... by all means go ahead"; it seems to me this user has already done some of that, so I'd say a ban beyond the three-day cooling off already imposed (Wikivoyage:User_ban_nominations#User:Tourtravelets) should not be considered. The problematic link is blocked and should remain so unless evidence is presented to justify unblocking, so there is no need to block the user. Pashley (talk) 17:01, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
First of all, Pashley, Tourtravelets is a separate case involving a completely different user. Les Saintes is not currently the subject of any ban, of any duration. However, between swearing at K7L and leveling baseless accusations of ethnic prejudice at Ikan Kekek, I think that in the event of a continuation of the behavior pattern displayed above it would be completely reasonable to impose a similar three-day cooling-off ban on Les Saintes. -- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 18:33, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
According the human rights and in a lot of modern country: a person is presumed innocent and after strong evidence she could be judged guilty…

If I understand your rules," lessaintes-booking" is presumed guilty and for some of you already judged guilty….

After a look on The Guadeloupe page and its private and personal links, my honesty can't be offended anymore.

To resolve the problem I propose to ban "Myself" forever …

Les Saintes

Les Saintes: All we ask of our editors, and all we are asking of you, is to follow policy and treat other editors collegially and respectfully. The vast majority of Wikivoyagers, both newbies and old hands, have no problem with those two things, but you have openly refused to do either of them despite numerous instances in which you have been advised. Accordingly, perhaps the resolution you propose is best for everyone. -- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 23:08, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
Les Saintes, Pashley stated above that he found other sites that also claim to be the official site of Les Saintes. You bring up the courts, but in fact, if this were a court case, the burden of proof would indeed be on YOU to prove that your site is the official site. If it is the official site, your time would be better spent inquiring as to HOW you can prove it rather than swearing at people. ChubbyWimbus (talk) 11:25, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

Touting in a nutshell[edit]

This could perhaps be added to some appropriate section of the Don't tout policy page (obviously just the description and nothing else, otherwise we'll be touting the restaurant ;)). It's like a caricature of a touty listing except that it's apparently for real. ϒpsilon (talk) 20:34, 3 October 2014 (UTC)

"Approving" a marketer[edit]

User:VerbInteractive seems to be an exception to our normal hotel marketers - he/she has read existing policies and guidelines and seems committed to contributing here responsibly. At this point, in accordance with policy he/she has been proposing listings on talk pages, and other editors are then adding those listing to articles. Would there be any objection to making an exception to our "marketers may not add new listings" policy and allow this user to make updates directly? The policy was originally put in place because 99.9% of marketers were adding junk listings and were unresponsive to repeated requests to stop doing so, but this user apparently represents the 0.1% of that group that will contribute responsibly. -- Ryan • (talk) • 18:29, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

As one of the users who've been assisting this marketeer in responsibly adding their hotel listings, I would support this and would be happy to keep checking how it turns out. They've been responsive and are working within policy. Their (upscale) hotels generally get very positive reviews, so listing them seems a benefit to us too. JuliasTravels (talk) 19:21, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
Agree too, the user has been working responsibly. (By coincidence I added one of the company hotels a couple of days before a request was made.) --Traveler100 (talk) 19:31, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
This marketer is really a positive surprise, compared to what we practically always otherwise see from marketers and business owners. I'd say yes. ϒpsilon (talk) 20:22, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
That seems like a consensus from those who have been most closely involved, so I'll leave a note on the user's talk page that he/she can update articles directly, but that other editors will remain watchful to ensure contributions are acceptable. -- Ryan • (talk) • 20:59, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
I also offer my full support for this motion. Thank you for proposing this. Ikan Kekek (talk) 01:14, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

Can touts circumvent blocks!?[edit]

Swept in from the pub

Ryan indefblocked a spammer named User:Anujkushawaha14. Yet if you look at that users contributions they've been able to start up the spam page once again despite being blocked! I think this looks pretty alarming. ϒpsilon (talk) 10:05, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

FYI Ikan just deleted the spam page. If the user is still able to post spam, somebody has to contact Wikimedia's tech department right away. ϒpsilon (talk) 10:10, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
No panic :-) The user was spamming on his own talk page. Preventing blocked users to edit their own talk page is an option you have to include specifically. I did that now. JuliasTravels (talk) 10:12, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks! :) *wiping coffee off my desk and laptop*--ϒpsilon (talk) 10:14, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
What JuliasTravels said - the default when applying a block is to still allow a user to edit their talk page so that they can appeal the block. -- Ryan • (talk) • 15:45, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for explaining. It did look quite unbelievable. :D ϒpsilon (talk) 16:10, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

Car rental agencies[edit]

If I'm not mistaken we have a policy of not allowing car rental agencies (except for destinations where it's particularly hard to rent a car) but I cannot find it. If someone remembers where it is, please put a link to it at User talk:Cindyglobe (who's been adding this to Montreal and all its districts). ϒpsilon (talk) 21:02, 11 December 2015 (UTC)

WV:External links#What not to link to: "Rental car operators in cities where they are common (10 or more operating in the city). Typically we don't provide details of national car rental chains in local guides. Providing details at the national level, and mentioning the name and location at local level is sufficient, if required." -- Ryan • (talk) • 21:21, 11 December 2015 (UTC)
Thanks! :) ϒpsilon (talk) 21:38, 11 December 2015 (UTC)

Excited customers - treat the same way as touts?[edit]

Swept in from the pub

Okay, doing recent changes patrol and looking at this edit, which seems to be of an excited customer (notice the third person pronouns and lack of some other features of "classical" touting), I am wondering how to treat those. On the one hand we want positive, lively prose, on the other hand every restaurant being praised as the best and stuff does not help our case either. And lastly there is a very serious risk of biting newbies (I for one think we might have chased away the person who created Villingen-Schwenningen simply by flooding it with edits shortly after its creation) if we edit around in their recently added listings or worse yet, revert on sight. What say ye? Hobbitschuster (talk) 16:51, 5 April 2017 (UTC)

No. There are fundamental differences, and indeed only superficial similarities, between touts and excited customers. The entire crux of the reason why we don't like touts on this site is because their vested interests in making their businesses appear to be great and wonderful prevent us from considering their point of view to be objective. Excited customers, on the other hand, are some of the most desirable people we want contributing to Wikivoyage - not only because we can presume them to be objective, but also because the logical flipside of our desire to avoid negative reviews is to encourage (objective) positive reviews; the more positive the better. Of course superlatives like "perfect" and "best" are to be avoided, as well as empty flowery language, but that's already covered in Wikivoyage:Words to avoid. -- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 17:30, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
That looks like a perfect Wikivoyage eat listing, from someone who's been to Big D's and clearly loved it. I don't even think "best" is a problem when used in a clearly idiomatic phrase such as the "best around", "best in town". It certainly makes me want to pay Big D a visit. --ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 18:17, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
In light of that what should we say about this edit by User:Ibaman? Hobbitschuster (talk) 18:35, 5 April 2017 (UTC)

I reverted Ibaman's edit in question, but would like for more discussion about this. @Ikan Kekek: @Wrh2: what do you say? Hobbitschuster (talk) 19:32, 5 April 2017 (UTC)

I think a more moderate edit would be OK, but in my opinion, the edit you reverted went further than necessary, particularly the listing that ended up with nothing but "BBQ, ribs and chicken." Calling breakfasts "large and satisfying" is perfectly fine. Ikan Kekek (talk) 19:58, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
Speaking for my actions, edits such as "directions=follow your nose", in my opinion, cross the line between lively and flowery promotional writing. Looking at it at the first time, I had the solid gut feeling that mr. Big D himself wrote it, and acted accordingly. However, I see and respect the point, and will abide Ikan's opinion that my edit should be more moderate. Ibaman (talk) 20:03, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
I completely agree on "follow your nose". That's no kind of direction. Ikan Kekek (talk) 20:30, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
If Mr. Big himself wrote that, he is more competent than about 90% of our touts. Just saying. Hobbitschuster (talk) 23:34, 5 April 2017 (UTC)

Regulating commercial interests on Wikivoyage[edit]

Hello, this is a proposal to expand the definition of touting, to prevent people with vested interests from editing in a manner which serves said interests rather than the interests of Wikivoyage and travellers. This post arises from Talk:Ramallah#Granada Bar & Restaurant. It's going to be exceedingly long, but please bear with it.

It has come to my attention that we are effectively allowing covert touting on quite a large scale. I call it "touting" based on my own definition, as the touting in question is not, as far as I can see, an infringement of Wikivoyage policy. On Wikivoyage, touting is defined primarily by the language used, and other elements of unfair editing such as removing listings for competing companies, or inserting unfavourable information about them. My personal definition of touting is, additionally to that, any listing added by somebody who has a vested interest in that listing being on Wikivoyage. This includes previously touty listings that have been "de-touted" by one of our team, and listings added by (representatives of) business owners that conform to our manual of style and for all intents and purposes appear to be ordinary listings. It is my view that we should not allow any such listings on Wikivoyage.

So, what's the problem here? Why are these listings bad? Well,

1. Conflict of interest

On Wikivoyage, the traveller comes first. Always, without exception, no question. This guiding principle is due to the shared aspiration of Wikivoyagers to create the world's best travel guide. Every edit I make to mainspace, the traveller's needs and concerns are at the forefront of my mind; I want my contributions to inform, entertain and be indispensable to the probably abstract "traveller" ideal who reads Wikivoyage. We all make mistakes, and I have certainly made many edits that did not live up to this high standard, but the intention was always there. I am sure the same applies to almost every other contributor on this site. We're here for the traveller.

By contrast, the primary goal of a commercial enterprise is to make money. This means that when representatives of hotels, restaurants and the like add information about their own businesses to Wikivoyage, however well-intentioned the edits, and however much they try to conform to our policies, the traveller does not come first in their priorities. How can she? Their business concerns, and the desire to make money for themselves or their employer come first. It's so obvious that it's a truism, but we currently give such business priorities a free pass, as long as the language used is not touty. That is not to say that commercial interests are necessarily bad (this is not The Communist Manifesto for Wikivoyage!), but merely to say that commercial interests necessarily do not align with our guiding principle.

2. These are adverts, not listings

Any listing added by someone with a business interest is not on Wikivoyage due to its own merits. It does not reflect the experience of travellers who have visited the venue in question and decided "this place is great; others need to know about this." It hasn't been added as the result of an internet search by a remote Wikivoyager who has put time into researching different options for a destination article, comparing reviews and listings on multiple platforms in order to decide whether the place deserves a listing, and in order to be fair. It has been added because the owner wants to make money. It is not a proper listing; it is an advertisement.

Whatever the wording used, such an advert-'listing' is not and can never be fair, because such listings will never "call a spade a spade" when a positive spin can be put on it, or the disadvantages that made it a spade can be omitted. To quote the page 'Be fair', "If a restaurant is crowded, loud, and overpriced, we need to say so. If a hotel has bugs, smells like urine, or is dangerously badly built, we need to say so. If a tourism site is ugly, annoying, or not worth the effort, we need to say so." A 'listing' added by someone with a vested interest will never do this. Why would it? We already warn against business owners "whitewashing or sanitising" previously fair content, but what about content that is added pre-whitewashed and already sanitised by business owners? If I'm a hotelier, and know about Don't tout, I am not going to add a listing talking about "our luxury, premier, hand-crafted organically-sourced swimming pool with the sunniest patio in Spain and an unparalleled selection of orange juices from our award-winning presseur...". But when I add my 'non-touty' advert-listing, I will find a way to overlook the noise and stench from the adjacent abattoir, and the rat infestation that the local hygiene inspector described as "problematic".

If further proof were needed that such listings are adverts that are being added solely or primarily to serve commercial interests, just look at the number of 'editors' who do nothing but post listings for Citadines. The listings themselves are inoffensive; they don't use touty language, and stick to description. However, these are not the actions of the Citadines Customers Travelling Fan Club; these are Citadines employees who have been instructed to add listings for their employers' hotels across the world of Wikivoyage articles. If this weren't an effective way of advertising the presence of a Citadines at a given destination, the hotel company would make these people do something else for their salary. But no, here they are, veritable teams of advertisers merrily adding commercialised content to Wikivoyage, and we let it happen.

By the way, I'm not singling out Citadines. No, other hotel chains are almost certainly in on the act too, though Citadines is the only one I have been made aware of (in the aforementioned discussion at Talk:Ramallah).

You have my argument as to why these listings should be treated as adverts, but there's still one more reason why they are harmful for Wikivoyage:

3. Non-touty or 'detouted' advert 'listings' are not obvious.

The traveller can read a listing that uses touty language, clock that something is not right and think to herself "Hmm, that looks a bit too good to be true. I'll take this info with a pinch of salt." Now obviously in an ideal world, such a listing wouldn't remain on Wikivoyage, but unfortunately stuff slips through the net from time to time. Eventually, someone will find and correct it. However, when the same traveller reads a listing that is not obviously touty, but has still been added with commercial interests and not her interests as a traveller in mind, she is none the wiser! She assumes it is an ordinary listing that has been submitted by a fellow traveller based on its own merits. To all intents and purposes, if it looks like a normal listing, and reads like a normal listing, it must be a normal listing. But it's not! It's an advert. The traveller may be easily duped by such a listing, and thus the purpose of the advert is served. This is true even if the listing in question has been "detouted" by another Wikivoyager.

To repeat myself from the Ramallah discussion page, if the traveller really does come first here, then she has a right to know whether the content she is reading may contain adverts. Even Google distinguishes between genuine results that are generated by its own opaque formulae, and sponsored results that appear because someone has paid for them to be there, but we don't.

Now I expect it is probably clear by now that I am strongly against any kind of vested interest (commercial, political or other) contaminating our wonderful travel guide, and we'll come on to what to do about that in the next section, but at the bare minimum it is important for travellers to be in the know. "Are there advert listings on a page? Where are they? Are they clearly marked as adverts? Or does Wikivoyage not allow that sort of thing?" Even if my below proposal is rejected out of hand, I really want there to be something done to address the issue of travellers being able to distinguish between advert-listings and proper listings.

The proposal

  • Any new listing that is added to further commercial interests should be classed as touting and reverted on sight. No 'detouting', no negotiations with the editor to persuade them to conform to our policies, and no "well there's no touty language, so this hotel conglomerate employee gets a free pass", just deletion.
  • People with vested interests should not be allowed to add new listings for their own business ventures, or those of their employer.
  • People with vested interests should not be allowed to edit any qualitative information on an existing listing that relates to their own business interest. If they need to add or update quantitative information such as an address, phone number or room rates, that's fine and is helpful. It eases the workload on other editors when we can trust business owners to update such mundane details. But the same people should not update the 'content' section; that should be reserved for people with no vested interest in the business' success or failure.
  • The above should have no effect on anybody's right to edit and add content that is not directly compromised by a vested interest. Aside from listings relating to vested interests, users with said interests should have the same rights and responsibilities as any other Wikivoyage editor.

Anything less encourages situations like the one we have with Citadines employees adding listings for each of their company's many branches. Detouting may take the 'fangs' out of an advert, but it doesn't prevent the advert from doing its intended job.

Caveats and conclusion

I realise the above proposal and even the argument that precipitates it is likely to be controversial. For one, it will radically change long standing policy, which is (rightly) a difficult thing to do on Wikivoyage. It will also involve a substantial review of Welcome, business owners. For another, there is an implicit move from regulating edits based on the content, to regulating it based on the person. Ikan Kekek describes that as a "huge can of worms", and I am sympathetic to that view. Therefore, if my proposal somehow gets approved and becomes policy, there must be steps taken to make sure that business owners and others with vested interests are not excluded from contributing in constructive ways to any other aspect of Wikivoyage. My proposal is intended to prevent business owners (and their associates and employees) from adding and editing listings for the benefit of their own businesses. We must also be careful not to set a precedent where it becomes acceptable to reduce other individual editors' or types of editors' privileges based on who they are, rather than how they conduct themselves.

That's it. If you've stuck with this to the end, thank you. I am looking forward to reading your opinions. --ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 11:31, 8 December 2017 (UTC)

Of course I'm sympathetic to your proposal, and it's expressly because of the number of posts that I deduce are by employees of individual hotels and hotel chains that I would never trust hotel listings on this site as a general rule. But there's a huge problem with your proposal. I can't prove that there is a group of employees or publicists who add listings for Citadines; I have simply deduced that because that's pretty much all they do. So what this policy would amount to, if we adopted it, is that any chain that we see a lot of listings being added for would be blacklisted, with all its listings excised from the site. Is that really what we want to do? Ikan Kekek (talk) 17:19, 8 December 2017 (UTC)
Firstly, thanks for reading and answering. I don't think we would blacklist any chains, nor should we. This is because:
1. There are already hundreds of listings for said chains; my proposal doesn't aim to delete existing listings, merely to stop further listings of the same kind being added by company reps.
2. International hotel chains are used by lots of travellers, so it is inevitable that travellers and regular Wikivoyagers will continue to add listings for such chains; that is to be facilitated, and encouraged!
Plus, the very fact that you don't trust hotel listings on this site shows that there's a problem that needs fixing. How can we be a truly great travel guide if our sleep listings (the bread and butter of any travel guide) are not trustworthy? --ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 17:42, 8 December 2017 (UTC)
I do not agree with the proposal to not allow people with vested interests to add a listing. Someone adding their (or their employees) hotel or restaurant to an article is useful to travellers, making people aware of its existence. I can however see the merits of restricting this to quantitative facts and not allowing qualitative content as this will obviously be biased. Would maybe worth considering a declaration of vested interest on the user's page. --Traveler100 (talk) 18:08, 8 December 2017 (UTC)
Isn't that already policy? Ikan Kekek (talk) 18:27, 8 December 2017 (UTC)
As good as. As state disagree with the proposal. People travel to make money or because they have made money. Not sure what utopian economic system this proposal is trying to get to. --Traveler100 (talk) 18:44, 8 December 2017 (UTC)
Is it stating conflict of interest that is (as good as) policy already, or restricting people with vested interests to quantitative information?
Just to be clear, there is no "utopian economic system" envisaged. Nor do I have anything against people having or making money. Every listing anyone adds is going to result in somebody making some money, so if that was the problem, I wouldn't be here at all. The problem as I see it is people and companies who are using Wikivoyage as a platform to advertise themselves. I am certain that the majority of people who use Wikivoyage as a travel guides don't expect to read covert advertisements; that's what the other site is for. --ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 20:57, 8 December 2017 (UTC)
Both are policy, though we've sometimes been a little lax about requiring people who seem to have single-purpose accounts created to list chains from stating their interest in their user pages. There's a time-use factor in dealing with all of this. And please understand: The only way to tell that someone has a single-purpose account is to observe their behavior over time. And in the case of Citadines and the related chain, some of the accounts have only a few edits. So meaningful enforcement of your proposed policy would amount to not only a total ban on merely descriptive listing by business owners and employees but also retroactive deletion of entire chains' worth of listings, due to a deduction - not a proven fact, but a very clear deduction from evidence - that there are 1, 2 or quite a few users who are spending time adding the listings for one or two chains. Ikan Kekek (talk) 23:12, 8 December 2017 (UTC)