Wikivoyage talk:Prose Improvement Expedition

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Lead paragraphs


are often very formulaic - we could at least concentrate on the 200 odd country level lead paragraphs... 118 —The preceding comment was added by 118.93nzp (talkcontribs) 06:04, 28 December 2013‎

Sounds good to me! That would be an excellent way to get this project started. --Nick talk 23:56, 28 December 2013 (UTC)Reply

Spice vs. readability


Commercial guides sometimes uses English so spiced that it is NOT understandable by native speakers. Their intros sometimes use jokes and pop culture references that I don't get. Paper guides usually target a particular population and age group, so they can afford that.

I don't think we want to go that far. Let's spice up but stay understandable. English Wikivoyage is the most developed Wikivoyage, so it is used by many non-natives. Nicolas1981 (talk) 11:42, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply

You are absolutely right Nicolas - there is a delicate balance to be struck here. I'd hope that this expedition is a two-step process: improving both the flow and readability of articles (making them easier to read), as well as adding some stylistic flourishes that make our guides enjoyable to read. --Nick talk 12:02, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply
I completely agree, too. I don't think we should make this a Simple English guide, but I do think it should be written with an eye toward being comprehensible by someone with a good but not necessarily native level of English proficiency. Ikan Kekek (talk) 12:07, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply
You mean things like the first sentence in New Orleans? I had to google it a few days ago but at least I learned something new :D. I don't think the biggest problem(?) is that the English used in our guides would be too hard to understand, but cultural references that might be incomprehensible to non-locals. ϒpsilon (talk) 12:39, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply
Sometimes, it may be worth it to include that kind of phrase for local color, precisely because it impels people to find out about it. Ikan Kekek (talk) 13:04, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply
I would love to get myself involve in this expedition but unfortunately due to the fact, my English is rather poor and I'm not that creative, I would hesitate to join it but anyway I'm trying to spice-up the Karachi lead section. Would anybody care to copyedit please? --Saqib (talk) 13:30, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply

I prefer "lively" to "spicy" as the figure of speech. Anyway, Wikivoyage:Tone is our guide. Nurg (talk) 00:08, 11 January 2014 (UTC)Reply



Can articles in WV space have banners? If so, could someone please add one here? The current TOC does not interact well with the bulleted lists in the text. Pashley (talk) 15:33, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply

Whilst I don't think it's official policy, they do seem to be used in circumstances where the normal TOC conflicts (e.g. Wikivoyage:Wikivoyage_and_Wikitravel). I'll implement one now. --Nick talk 15:44, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply
Nice. Thanks. Pashley (talk) 16:22, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply



A good example of what we are aiming at is the current first paragraph of Retiring abroad, added in response to this discussion Talk:Retiring_abroad#Lede. As the main writer for that article, I had completely missed the need for something like that though it was obvious once pointed out (twice; I can be thick-headed at times). Pashley (talk) 16:22, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply

That is a good example of what we're aiming for! Is it worth compiling a list of a few articles (particularly their lead paragraphs) that are especially well written? --Nick talk 18:28, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply
Definitely! And we can probably start with almost any district article for Chicago. Ikan Kekek (talk) 18:50, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply
It is likely also worth mentioning our Star articles as examples. Most of them should be good examples & any that aren't are candidates for urgent fixes. Pashley (talk) 19:28, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply
A list has been started. Do refine it so it covers our very best and only our very best. Nurg (talk) 23:49, 10 January 2014 (UTC)Reply

New York Times on Wikivoyage

Swept in from the pub

We received a nice Christmas present from the New York Times! Not exactly a glowing review, it must be said, but hey, at least "is the closest thing I found in format to an online guidebook... The score was more or less tied in some other areas, like overviews on culture and history, collections of some useful phrases and important cultural mores like tipping. Wikivoyage alone covered most of those." Jpatokal (talk) 11:03, 27 December 2013 (UTC)Reply

This is good news and (to a degree) all publicity is good publicity! However, that said, the article in question is quite damning about this site in places: 'the length and quality of descriptions were erratic, the writing was dull and practical information was again scarce'. Due to the unique(-ish) way WV works, it's fairly inevitable that some of descriptions will be a little 'erratic', but could we do more in some cases to 'spice up' our prose? Not only would this improve Wikivoyage's readability but also help to differentiate our content from that of "other sites". If so, might it be worth creating an expedition to highlight high profile articles that could do with a little extra excitement? --Nick talk 17:30, 27 December 2013 (UTC)Reply
I was thinking the same a few days back. An expedition is definitely need. --Saqib (talk) 17:32, 27 December 2013 (UTC)Reply
It is good to noticed by the press, and I don't think that the article will do any harm. Reading the article it appears that our online maps were not noticed, and the reviewer may not have found the Hungarian phrasebook. The phrasebook is only clearly linked from Hungary, it could have links from other regularly viewed pages like Budapest. I don't think that it is obvious enough that the icon above the banner leads to a full page map. Maybe "click here for a map" text could be added, and some usability testing would be useful. Also few sights in Hungary have lat/longs so not much will appear on maps (this will take time). AlasdairW (talk) 23:46, 27 December 2013 (UTC)Reply
The article does not worry me at all. To me, it sounded like all of the deficiencies to which the author took issue are problems that will be solved over time as our editing community grows. And any attention from the media, especially from a publication as prominent as the New York Times, has the potential to attract new contributors to our project. -- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 00:12, 28 December 2013 (UTC)Reply
Re: "these problems will be solved over time", that's not to say I would not support a prose-improvement expedition as proposed above. Such a project would play to my strengths as an editor, so it's likely that I would be an active contributor to it. -- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 00:16, 28 December 2013 (UTC)Reply
One notable omission from the NYT piece: there's no mention of the possibility of downloading a guide onto a mobile device to be tucked into a carry-on bag. That would seem to be a task for which WV is well suited. A missed opportunity.
That said, however, our coverage is widely variable - blunder into New York and Buffalo-Rochester are solid, Watertown-Syracuse-Utica are so-so, Lake Placid looks like someone accidentally let the Essex County CVB loose on it (although some of the promotional language has been cleaned up), New York City is quite comprehensive while in Oswego, Ogdensburg and Massena the traveller is on their own. In some cases, tiny specks on the map have articles while more important destinations are missing. Many of these issues were imported from WT and never fully corrected. Unlike the missing GPS co-ordinates (which might be a good job for a 'bot), the only way to fix the stale WT prose, uneven coverage, outdated or missing info and CVB-style self-promotion is to go through every destination individually, manually. No small task. K7L (talk) 21:04, 28 December 2013 (UTC)Reply
Wikivoyage offline readers are getting better: Wikivoyage:Offline_reader_Expedition. Already light-years from what WT can ever hope to get. By the way, Kiwix and OxygenGuide need more testers. Nicolas1981 (talk) 13:46, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply

I suspect the author did find the Hungarian phrasebook, as he wrote "Wikivoyage alone" (that is, Wikivoyage without resort to any other online site) "covered most of those", and among "those" was "collections of some useful phrases". Powers (talk) 21:10, 28 December 2013 (UTC)Reply

I also can't help but point out the author's opinion that online (i.e., dynamic) maps don't hold a candle to the carefully crafted maps in his printed guidebook. Powers (talk) 21:11, 28 December 2013 (UTC)Reply
Our Hungary map is quite good actually. The Budapest map seriously needs improvement indeed, it should at least show the 3 districts into which the city has been split, and possibly the main sights. Nicolas1981 (talk) 12:18, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply
I believe that the article is the usual thing written with the foregone conclusion that "online sites are good but books still have a role to play", and only later did the author bother to do a bit of research to fill in the paragraphs. I believe no site could hope to suddenly be recommended over anything else, especially books.
I find it good publicity, a sign that we are on the radar and taken seriously, and good publicity we need. I don't quite know if we can conclude anything about dynamic maps, as Budapest does not use any (and THAT'S a glaring omission, but I guess we need to face the fact that the pace of change is only proportional to the number of editors and tangential with their interests), but I am firmly of the opinion that maps displaying POIs automatically will always be inferior to handcrafted maps done by somebody paid for days to do just that - and Lonely Planet's maps are hopeless compared to Dorling Kindersley's for one - but nobody here is being paid to do that, and while a book can be sent off to print and updated the next time around, the use of handcrafted map for an online site that can be edited by anybody is as impractical as possible. But we've discussed it so many times before, so let's move on and perhaps improve the Budapest article in due course. PrinceGloria (talk) 12:48, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply

Expedition created


I've created a 'Prose Improvement Expedition' as per our above discussion; please feel free to get involved and alter or add to the expedition page as you feel necessary! --Nick talk 01:49, 28 December 2013 (UTC)Reply



Hello everyone and Nick. I want you guys to take a look at the lead of Karachi and if it have a writing we aim for, can it be listed as an example here? --Saqib (talk) 12:14, 4 May 2014 (UTC)Reply

Status rating / maintenance tag for the level of prose in our articles

Swept in from the pub

So I have been thinking and I got an idea for how to deal with the quality of the prose of (some of) our articles. First of, I would limit this to only usable and above, because outline articles should have so little written in them that it does not matter what style the prose is in anyways...

My idea is to either a) rate the prose from "needs work" to "acceptable" and then "extraordinary" along some criteria to be hashed out later and either put this under the status rating or in the appropriate section (some huge articles may have generally good prose but need work in a certain section)

b)Put maintenance tags on pages that don't meet a certain minimum in terms of grammar consistency, sounding like actual English and (is this a word?) idiomaticness

c)Put pages in a "hidden category" when their English language quality is an issue

d) some combination of all of them.

What do you think? Personally I sometimes have the problem of coming across an article and either being unable to decipher what was meant myself, or being unable to come up with a really good wording (and as somebody once said "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug") or you know, I myself was the culprit of bad English... One of the most egregious offenses on my part is probably writing sentences that never stop, as Germans - especially those who had Latin in school - are sadly fond of doing, as evidenced by this very sentence, which should really have stopped ages ago, even though another subordinate clause might be added still. Hobbitschuster (talk) 22:44, 21 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

Are you familiar with the Wikivoyage:Prose_Improvement_Expedition ? The goal seems similar... --Andrewssi2 (talk) 22:54, 21 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
Andrewssi2, was PIE supposed to be ongoing, or was it a one-time push? Hobbitschuster, I like maintenance tags. I would not hide tagged articles; poorly written guides are better than nothing. Tagged pages should be put into a "pages that need copyediting" category, so that WikiGnomes can find them easily. I don't know how I feel about putting big "This page needs work" Wikipedia-style banners at the top of articles. Peter Chastain (talk) 03:16, 22 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
I was unaware of the existence of the expedition. And @User:Peter Chastain, you may have misunderstood me, I was not arguing for hiding the articles, I was arguing for (maybe) hiding the maintenance tag, as - as you say - a big red banner saying "this page needs work" might not be ideal for our purposes... Hobbitschuster (talk) 13:21, 22 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
As you have just shown, that the expedition will become inactive, unless it is constantly advertised. I like your maintenance-tag idea better. We should not have a big banner, but a very small message ("This article needs copyediting; help out!") might be helpful—or just annoy travelers who only wanted a guide. Do we need to warn them or apologize for bad prose? If not, the message should, at the very least, be omitted from mobile version. Peter Chastain (talk) 14:18, 22 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
I think it should definitely be omitted from the app, and most likely also from mobile... Hobbitschuster (talk) 18:32, 22 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
On the subject of visible tags, Wikipedia-style: There's no good evidence that those tags actually attract new contributors. Consequently, I favor adding "invisible" tags with a hidden category (or putting tags on the talk page). WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:05, 24 January 2016 (UTC)Reply