Wikivoyage talk:Goals and non-goals

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Encouraging socializing with groups of local residents that share a common interest[edit]

Swept in from the pub

Any traveler whom has ever stayed at a different state or country for an extended period of time knows how hard it could be to make new friends in a different city or country - especially if you are at a foreign country.

For this reason, I feel that our city guides are still missing a section that would help our readers find prominent websites which organize face-to-face meetups where a traveler can participate in the meetings of various local like-minded people, and hopefully maybe even gain some good new friends as a result.

Websites such as Meetup.com have definitely become prominent in the recent decade - especially in the United States and major English speaking countries in the west - as the means by which a group of complete strangers whom shares a common interest would find each other and organize get-togethers.

So far I've created this draft, to which I added the section "Socialize with local groups that share a common interest" in order to try and exemplify what I mean exactly (I would completely agree that links to other websites are needed (beside the ones to Meetup.com), and that we should probably also re-edit the text (English is not my native language and therefore my text is very likely to have some mistakes).

Do you support or object adding a similar section (which would maybe be worded differently)?

ויקיג'אנקי (talk) 07:43, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

Do any other travel guides or sites associate themselves with meetup sites? What would we gain from associating ourselves with that particular site, which probably won't link to us? The reason we don't allow external links for sites that aren't primary references for listings is that we used to have arguments about which secondary site should be linked, and I don't want that kind of argument to be repeated with meetup sites. Also, not to be paranoid, but we wouldn't want to be legally liable if someone met up with another person because we facilitated that, and got raped and murdered. So those are some concerns. Ikan Kekek (talk) 07:49, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
I don't think information about meetups is appropriate as a new subsection in our city guide template – both for the reasons that Ikan cites, as well as because the phenomenon simply isn't popular or widespread enough that there would be any information to add in most cases. However, I think this might work very well as a travel topic, where we could compare and contrast the advantages and drawbacks of each individual resource, and also include a section on safety. -- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 13:21, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
That's a good point. Traveling to meet people is clearly something people do. There are also people who swap couch space in strangers' houses. So those could be travel topics. Ikan Kekek (talk) 14:02, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
Sure, it could work as a travel topic, though I wouldn't support a separate section in individual guides for meetups. ϒpsilon (talk) 14:14, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
I don't think that the meetup site given is suitable for listing in part due to the security concerns that Ikan raised. However we maybe could list WMF meetups if they are regularly happening in a city e.g. meta:Meetup/London. Otherwise we should only list meetups when they happen regularly at a single venue (generally in drink). A travel topic may also be useful. AlasdairW (talk) 14:58, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
Travel topic sounds fine, and regular, concrete opportunities that might interest travellers in particular destinations can be listed in the relevant listings (drink or do). I wouldn't support a dedicated section in templates either, for the reasons given and because I fear in practice they'll mostly be filled with a lot of advice from Captain Obvious about meeting people, plus links to the same few external websites (like this meetup.com) in many articles. I also wouldn't support listing WMF meetups, as they are of no more interest to average travellers than most other clubs or meetups and are typically in the local language too. JuliasTravels (talk) 15:35, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

I understand that including websites like Meetup.com for encouraging socializing with groups of locals with a common interest would be a big shift from the common practice in traditional travel books, and that many here might be afraid that such websites could lead someone to be raped or murdered. Well, first of all one could argue that a Wikivoyage guide by itself that covers a region where there is a significant ethnic based conflict could be used by "bad people" to lead someone to his/her death either way - for example, a "bad guy" could for example edit the Hebrew article about the West Bank and recommend to the Hebrew speakers specific places to eat or sleep at while in practice his real intention might be to lead Israeli-Jews to places that would be dangerous for them. I am sure that there are many similar examples.

Regarding Meetup.com specifically, although I assumed there is going to be a considerable opposition to adding links to websites such as meetup, I still think that adding links to Meetup.com or to websites that do the same and are as popular, might be very useful for our LONELY travelers especially since Meetup.com has become the de-facto most popular website of this kind on the web - especially in the United States - and since I know many travelers whom are looking to incorporate meeting locals and trying to make friends into their travels (and usually going to the businesses we recommended in the "DO" sections doesn't help one make actual friends you are likely to meet again). I also think that when our readers would join such groups in public places they should be much safer than for instance going to people's houses (couch surfing) or using various friend match websites which would match them only with local individuals. In my opinion, the safest and most efficient way to get to know friendly locals while still being safe is meeting a big group of locals with a common shared interest and meeting them at public areas. I am sure that there are additional websites that help do the same thing, and therefore I was thinking we should devote such a section to all the most popular websites the help enable this in a safe and friendly way. ויקיג'אנקי (talk) 18:31, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

I just added the following notice to my draft "Please note, for safety reasons, we recommend going to meetups only if they are scheduled to take place at central public places and are attended by many participants." ויקיג'אנקי (talk) 18:46, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
I'm afraid this idea is a non-starter, because the content would be essentially identical for every article in which it appeared. There is no need to link to Meetup, or any other site, because a reader interested in such gatherings can simply go to meetup.com and enter the location to which she will be traveling. A link from us provides very little value. Powers (talk) 19:09, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
I think the point that Meetup is a useful resource for travelers is a good one, and it is also something that is outside of the scope of Wikivoyage. We've had discussions about similar sites, and the problem has always been trying to draw a line between "good" external links and spammy ones - what if we had a template that could be added to the bottom of articles that allowed inclusion of a pre-selected list of links to approved external sites? For example, if we decide Meetup is a resource that is widely used, outside of the scope of what Wikivoyage would support, and a valuable asset for travelers, then we add support for it in the template; if we don't add support for a link in the template then there would be no way to include it. Here's an example I threw together:
The UI and wording obviously needs tweaking, and the list of included sites would need significant discussion, but that gives an idea. And yes, I just opened that can of worms. -- Ryan • (talk) • 19:56, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
I think we need to stay away from linking to commercial sites whenever possible, especially when presented in that format. It flies in the face of the WMF's goal of facilitating the free exchange of unbiased, user-generated information. Our philosophy has always been to include information on our own site rather than linking to it externally, and the way to do that is by making meetups into a travel topic. -- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 21:13, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
I think it is great to make suggestions for adding more relevant content to our site, but this is really out of scope. We don't have to be the sole source of every single piece of potential information that people could use when they travel, and if someone wants to look up something specialized such as local groups then they can just google it, look it up on Facebook, Meetup or any one of hundreds of sites.
As mentioned earlier in this thread, it would make a good travel topic article. --Andrewssi2 (talk) 21:23, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
Andrewssi2, I understand quite well your suggestion to only have all the information about this option in one separate travel topic article, nevertheless, I am also aware of the fact that if we'll concentrate all info regarding this aspect of traveling in one guide and refrain from making this information widely available throughout the website, most of our readers won't ever become aware of the safe and efficient possibility available to them in the 2010s to to make quality friendships with locals during their trips or long stays at New York City, Sydney, Stockholm, New Delhi, Beijing, Tel-Aviv, etc. ויקיג'אנקי (talk) 21:51, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
Sure, but we can extend that argument everywhere. For example, should we link to AirBnb in every 'Sleep' section because it is a proven way to find accommodation and maybe make friends?
Wikivoyage is in many ways a 'traditional' web site that is perhaps quite behind the curve in terms of digital media. We do nevertheless need to be careful around linking to external commercial sites and services. Andrewssi2 (talk) 21:57, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
I am not sure about having a list of "approved" secondary sites because this would tend to be global rather than local ones. On occasion I have wanted to add a secondary link, but it has almost always been to a region specific one. For instance, a local newspaper may have a column about meetups and clubs in the area. An analogy would be only allowing listings of chain hotels. AlasdairW (talk) 22:05, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
Wikipedia which allow linking to external sites actually strongly discourage linking to sites that require registration so I agree with those who are not in favour of linking to meetup.com, tripadvisor and other similar sites. --Saqib (talk) 21:40, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
Saqib, in the case of Meetup.com the fact that everyone has to have a registered account (and using a real photo of yourself is encouraged) + the fact that all group organizers must make monthly payments in order to create and run their own groups (and that new groups are inspected and approved always only after 3 days), actually helps keep perverts, creeps, psychopaths, internet trolls, scammers, and other dangerous individuals out of these social initiatives (as they usually rather stay anonymous and not pay), unlike let's say classifieds websites such as Craigslist in which anyone could immediately post information about various social get-togethers without even having a registered username or anyone approving their posting beforehand. ויקיג'אנקי (talk) 22:21, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
I don't think that a site like meetup.com can do any serous checks in 3 days on groups signing up. A sporting club looking to become affiliated to the national body is more likely to take 3 years to get their membership approved - with national officials visiting the club, reviewing the safety plans etc. AlasdairW (talk) 22:47, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

It seems that the central problem with adding external links on Engvoy articles to prominent commercial sites that might benefit our reader tremendously (such as Meetup, Facebook, TripAdvisor, etc.) is one - if we allow this in some instances, sooner or later Wikivoyage would take part in significantly raising the web traffic to web sites that are going to earn more money as a result. And it seems that for many of the Wikivoyage community members this fact leads them to refrain from doing so no - matter - what (even if the travelers would have a significant benefit from the existence of those links). ויקיג'אנקי (talk) 22:32, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

To what degree travelers truly benefit from information available on commercial sites is an open question. Wikivoyage's noncommercial status and lack of vested interest in including or excluding any particular bit of information ensures that nothing gets in the way of our focus on the best interests of the traveler. The same cannot be said for sites like Tripadvisor or Meetup, whose ultimate goal of turning a profit for their owners compromises the integrity of their content (at least in theory). This is precisely why we favor including content here rather than linking to it from elsewhere. -- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 22:41, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
I understand this but still think that it would be a mistake to completely hide essential information from users just because it is available on very prominent commercial websites. ויקיג'אנקי (talk) 22:47, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
(Response to numerous comments above):
  1. There seems to be a belief that external links are evil or bad in some way, particularly if they link to commercial sites. It's worth remembering that Wikivoyage used to be hosted by a commercial entity. If a resource is valuable to travelers, ideally we should have some way to make the traveler aware of it. Our currently restrictive policy was born out of an inability to distinguish "good" external links from "bad" links, but if we can link to a subset of agreed-upon "good" links then that makes our guides better. Note that it's a valid point to say that we shoudn't link to a site because it isn't travel relevant or because it duplicates functionality that we should have on Wikivoyage, but the blanket argument that links to commercial sites are bad strikes me as detrimental to our goal of producing the best travel guides possible.
  2. To the argument that a commercial site might become evil, if it does we remove the template link and all links to it disappear from our site. The point is that this would be a curated list of resources.
  3. Third, I'm not sure how many people have tried to use Wikivoyage guides to plan a trip, but my experience during a recent trip to Turkey and Africa is that our guides aren't up to the task when you're unfamiliar with the place being visited. Until we can provide user reviews in our listings, a tool like Tripadvisor is essential. Similarly, being able to link to other resources for things like event listings (i.e. nightly events, not the annual events we currently include in our guides) would also greatly improve the utility of our guides.
  4. Finally, yes, someone can use Tripadvisor (or another resource) without it being linked from our guides, but when visiting another country it often isn't obvious what tools are used prominently in that destination. If Wikivoyage provided a curated set of resource links it would be a benefit to travelers. Even for guides to places that a traveler is familiar with, having a bookmark to the relevant Meetup page or event guide is a useful service to the traveler.
There are plenty of reasons for opposing links to other sites, but I think we need to remember that the goal is to produce free, complete and up-to-date travel guides and not cling to the status quo just because we've had a very restrictive external link policy in place in the past. -- Ryan • (talk) • 22:55, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
I completely agree with Ryan. The core group of editors at Hebvoy (there aren't a lot yet) has for a long while supported the option of adding prominent links to TripAdvisor to HebVoy articles, in order for our readers to make better decisions while traveling, although we haven't done so yet, mainly because the focus has been on other more important tasks so far. Has any other edition of Wikivoyage widely added links to prominent pages on TripAdvisor? (we might be able to form a better opinion about such an option by examining what specific other editions have done on this respect). ויקיג'אנקי (talk) 23:46, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
With regards to Ryan's post, it sounds like there is a meta discussion to be had around external linking. Do we have have enough basis so far to create a specific proposal discussion around this? --Andrewssi2 (talk) 01:49, 2 February 2015 (UTC)

Compromise suggestion[edit]

Make new like-minded friends while in Toronto

Read more about how travelers could make use of modern online tools to meet and socialize offline with groups of people in Toronto that share a common interest.

Instead of my original suggestion, we could just add an infobox to the "Do" sections of cities that would have an inner link to an extended guide that would cover this travel topic (making it a travel topic article was actually supported by some of the people whom rejected my initial suggestion). All I want is for our readers to be aware that such an option even exists (there are many lonely travelers out there). What do you think of this option? ויקיג'אנקי (talk) 01:39, 2 February 2015 (UTC)

My concern would be that we would need to add that box to a vast number of articles and it would crowd out images and infoboxes that might be of more value. In addition, putting the same box on numerous articles dilutes the value - once you've seen one, you ignore the rest, so we've then used up some of our valuable screen real estate for a box of limited value. If we were going to go with an approach like this one then I'd suggest a short, standardized one-liner listing, similar to w:Template:Wikivoyage-inline, although (obviously) my first preference would be the more generic resources template as outlined above. -- Ryan • (talk) • 03:49, 2 February 2015 (UTC)
Ryan, I think that you better start a separate discussion about Tripadvisor and similar sites. It is a serious issue, and it should not be compromised by the weird proposal of linking to someone's favorite website that is not relevant to 99% of travelers. By the way, do you plan to complete and officially release your essay at some point? --Alexander (talk) 04:36, 2 February 2015 (UTC)
That's even more horrible. Imagine that we have such infoboxes for Meetup.com, Couchsurfing, five major car rental companies, Tripadvisor, booking.com, and what else? Of course, Skype. One can call via Skype from any point in the world, so why not mention Skype in every article? --Alexander (talk) 04:36, 2 February 2015 (UTC)
I agree with Alexander. I am totally fine with travel topics about meetups while traveling or about couchsurfing, but I am opposed to having any kind of link to a site like meetup.com in any article other than a single travel topic dedicated to discussing using meetup sites while visiting places. This is a travel site, not a social media site, and I don't want to make it a social media site.
As for linking to Tripadvisor, if we do that, we might as well forget about making a travel guide on this site, because the information is already there, so why bother putting in the effort to make a free, non-commercial site here? We might as well give up if we're going to do that. The only way I could possibly change my mind about this is if Tripadvisor agreed to link to this site in exchange for us linking to them, and anyone is welcome to propose that to them - it could be great if it were ever to happen - but my guess is it'd be a cold day in Hell before that happens. And I'd be way more willing to countenance indiscriminate inline linking to our sister sites like Wikipedia than any linking to Tripadvisor, because Wikipedia (and Wiktionary, etc.) are fellow Wikimedia sites with the same non-commercial, copyleft policies. Ikan Kekek (talk) 05:06, 2 February 2015 (UTC)

For me, the main point is that we should not link to the same resource from many articles. The mentioned site is (probably – I do not know the site) totally appropriate for a suitable travel topic. If the problem is that people do not find our travel topics, then we should link those instead: start any section with a link to the main travel topic page (Sleep: {{Sleep}}, Do: {{Do}} etc.).

The second point is to have information about how to meet "local like-minded people". The main problem is that the information would be different depending on the reader's mindset. Sometimes there are local resources suiting many travellers (such as a listing of local clubs), and we should perhaps encourage adding that type of info.

--LPfi (talk) 09:03, 2 February 2015 (UTC)

I pretty much echo what both Ikan Kekek and LPfi said. Meetup.com and similar sites should at most be mentioned in a single travel topic only, not linked to repeatedly from every destination. And I'm surprised we're even discussing linking to Tripadvisor for the very reason Ikan mentions; we'd not only be offering free advertising for them and admitting that our site is not complete, we'd be diminishing our chances of becoming complete by sending people elsewhere for the basic information we should have but don't. I think it would pretty much defeat the logic of our external link policy too; if we linked to Tripadvisor, why not link to LP, why not just link to all our competitors, including the thousands of smaller, specialized, local sites which offer complete information where we do not? Texugo (talk) 10:20, 2 February 2015 (UTC)
With regards to Tripadvisor specifically, I would argue that user reviews are outside of the current scope of Wikivoyage, yet they are a necessity when planning a trip. Like Lonely Planet or the other book publishers, our guides help to understand the options and narrow them down, but even in a star article (I'm looking at Hiroshima#Sleep, since it's the first one on the Star articles page) there is no way to know if our listings are out-of-date, just one person's experience of a bad night, an over-enthusiastic write-up from someone who hasn't visited other places in the city, etc. There may be multiple ways to overcome that problem - linking to user reviews hosted elsewhere is just one option - but my recent experience in trying to use Wikivoyage for trip planning is that even our best guides are insufficient and that more information is a necessity. -- Ryan • (talk) • 17:42, 2 February 2015 (UTC)
I don't think that we should be linking to Tripadvisor, except in travel topics and maybe a page of resources for editors. There are other review sites, and the idea is that people do put a brief review in the description here. However I do see some advantages in linking to destination specific secondary sites. This could be the local school which has produced a guide to the city's history, or a walking club which has produced guides to city trails. These are the kind of sites that travellers might not find in a quick search. To start with, we might restrict secondary links to non-commercial sites, and specifically exclude any that offered booking. We have listings for mountains to climb which have no details of the route and there are no links because there are no primary sites to link to (WP links were removed). AlasdairW (talk) 22:03, 2 February 2015 (UTC)
Linking to destination-specific sites of utility is appealing, but then we run into the problem of vetting for quality. Powers (talk) 15:56, 3 February 2015 (UTC)

Add new functionality to organize travel[edit]

I was thinking wikivoyage could work as a place where people meet in order to organize a travel, a place where people interested in doing the same travel can discuss and then travel toghether. It is not necessary that the persons are friends, it would be enough They share the same interests.

In practice we could built a section in wikivoyage where people write what kind of travel they would do and then anyone interested could contact them, discuss the details and then they could do the travel they look for.

What do you think about this idea?

Polloepollo (talk) 23:38, 9 January 2018 (UTC)
First, welcome to Wikivoyage! What prompted you to discuss this here? Because it's not a goal of Wikivoyage and you'd like to make it one? My feeling is that this is probably something we don't want Wikivoyage to do. Are there other travel guide sites that facilitate the kind of thing you're suggesting? I wonder how they indemnify themselves against lawsuits if one traveler murders, rapes or robs the other. I think we're much better off providing people with information and letting them make their own arrangements of who they travel with elsewhere. Ikan Kekek (talk) 01:04, 10 January 2018 (UTC)