Wikivoyage talk:The traveller comes first

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I kind of posted this as an idea that underlies our mission -- to create a free, complete, reliable and up-to-date world-wide travel guide. I just wanted a good place to point it out, and a starting point for discussion. -- (WT-en) Evan 13:41, 10 Oct 2003 (PDT)

"The traveler comes first" vis-à-vis locals[edit]

Swept in from the pub

Can anyone expound on potential ways a local in particular might stray from "the traveler comes first" when building their hometown's travel guide, and offer advice on avoiding that? — Athelwulf [T]/[C] 11:11, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

The problems I see most often coming from locals enthusiastic to make a guide on their hometown usually involve giving too many options, or all options, making it more like a phone book than a travel guide. If you put every single neighborhood park, it's hard for the traveller to pick out the best from the list. If you include loads of info on bus stops in obscure parts of town, it's harder for the traveller to find the info that's more likely to be relevant. If a city has 27 bowling alleys, we don't need to list all of them. To find the things he or she needs, the traveller shouldn't need to sift through lots of furniture repair shops, dermatologists, 13 McDonalds and 7 Subways, office supply stores, counciling centers, quilting clubs, realtors, catering services, day cares, public schools, community college rec rooms, and other stuff that travelers typically do not need. Sometimes locals get so wrapped up in trying to show their town has lots of options, and they forget that a travel guide's job is to help the traveller find the best options. Texugo (talk) 12:29, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
Thanks! There was good advice out there already for business owners and other folks, but I couldn't find anything that addressed locals. This helps. — Athelwulf [T]/[C] 03:02, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure how far the "Understand" section of articles should go. It can contain general info such as history, demographics, culture. It's interesting background for the traveller, but is not travel info per se. Do we have a guideline about how far it should go? Nurg (talk) 04:36, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure we do not. If you'd like to start a draft, that would be great, and I will definitely look at it and see whether I can help. Ikan Kekek (talk) 04:39, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
We don't have any firm guidelines on it because it is all very relative, depending much on the destination's size/age/importance/uniqueness in relation to the size/age/importance/uniqueness of other places in the same region and in relation to its wider region/country/continent as a whole. What's notable and relevant background info for travel to one city will not necessarily be the same type or the same volume of information as it would be for another city of the same size in another part of the world. Texugo (talk) 15:13, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
This looks to me like a solution in search of a problem. I think the best course of action is to avoid regulation creep, give contributors (especially well-established ones) as free a hand as possible to develop articles in a way that makes sense to them, and address disputes on what is and is not appropriate content on a case-by-case basis. -- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 15:41, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
Maybe adding favorite new restaurants, and not sticking around long enough to remove the listing when the place goes under. (Restaurant failure rates are pretty significant.)
For people from very small towns, starting a page at all might occasionally be another issue. I added this listing to a nearby town. The restaurant is regionally famous, but it's practically the only thing in that entire town (population < 250). A travel guide for that town would pretty much say, "Eat dinner here, and then leave". WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:33, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
Sometimes tiny villages are created with little or no content - someone drops an empty template just to claim their pop-250 unincorporated village has a listing, but adds no content, adds their own business (as there's nothing else there) or adds something highly generic like "Do: hiking, fishing" with no other detail. Self-promotion is a risk; conversely "municipal property taxes are too high" isn't travel-relevant. Another risk is that locals are often last to notice that a once-respectable hotel has deferred maintenance and let service standards decline, because hotel/motel operators market to travellers, not locals; the first warnings are negative reviews from travellers. There's also a risk of getting too much detail (we don't care who is running for mayor or what day the recyclables are put at the kerb) or listing items which aren't travel-specific (there's this great lumberyard, so if you're staying long enough to build a house...). Certainly, businesses are known to open to great fanfare and close quietly, so even a local might need to drive by and see if everything listed still exists. K7L (talk) 15:10, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

Exceptions to rules[edit]

On the Wikivoyage:Travellers' pub#Nosedive of our U.S. Alexa rank thread, it's come up that we are not clear enough about the possibility of exceptions to all guidelines and policies that aren't legally required. Powers came up with this draft phrasing for an additional bullet to The traveller comes first:

"The community may come to a consensus not to apply a particular policy in a specific case, if applying the policy would be to the detriment of travellers."

We could also use a positive phrasing:

"The community may come to a consensus not to apply a particular policy in a specific case, if an exception is judged to be clearly beneficial to travellers."

Either way, I think some remarks are needed on how to suggest an exception. Here's an attempt at a bullet that covers both the principle and its implementation:

  • Except for policies that are required by law, there can be exceptions to any site guideline or policy. Anyone may propose an exception on the relevant page's talk page, and if they can convince a consensus that an exception is so beneficial to travellers that it should be granted, the exception will be made.

What do you all think? Ikan Kekek (talk) 19:11, 26 January 2020 (UTC)

In addition to legal mandates, we also need an exception for policies mandated by WMF (the only one I can think of off-hand is Wikivoyage:Non-free content, but there might be others). Powers (talk)
Right, but that's something we do have an exception rule for. I feel like it's restricted and uncommon enough not to call particular attention to it on this page, though. And if someone brought up wanting a consensus to use a photo of a copyrighted building or public sculpture (e.g. the Cloud Gate in Chicago) on an article's talk page, that would seem to me to be a perfectly OK place to discuss it, in any case. However, if there are core WMF policies that we can't have exceptions to, we should mention them in this bullet - or we could just say "Except for policies required by law and most Wikimedia Foundation policies, there can be exceptions..." Ikan Kekek (talk) 03:06, 28 January 2020 (UTC)
Fair points. I support this wording. Powers (talk) 21:30, 3 February 2020 (UTC)
The problem with a "consensus" is it means the poster making a case, waiting, others responding, the original poster answering, maybe giving further reasons, more back and forwards, etc. probable just over a listing. Good for driving people away from contributing to the site right at the time they are in a position to find and correct info. Ignoring touting, spamming, blindingly obvious, etc. I'd say that for other than gross breaches, make a case and the default position should be that the case is accepted. The individual posting the information is likely an independent traveller who is thus aware of what they'd find useful. They are in the location and in the best position the pass an opinion. A fair amount on the consensus discussion I've seen has been about the "personal preference" of people who are sitting at home rather than the needs of those actually doing the travelling in the country they were contributing info about. PsamatheM (talk) 14:09, 28 January 2020 (UTC)
I think somebody posts something with a case and the default assumption is that the case is accepted unless a consensus emerges against the exception. Then people with time discussing the minor detail can get on with fixing some if the massive shortcomings from elsewhere in the site. PsamatheM (talk) 14:12, 28 January 2020 (UTC)
One of the great failures of "policies" is that what might be appropriate to one country is totally unsuited to another country (e.g. postcode policy - invaluable in some countries, pretty useless in other countries). That does not mean you don't have policies, just that consensus discussions can become a bit daft on occasions as many contributing only think about the proposed change in relation to "their country". PsamatheM (talk) 14:09, 28 January 2020 (UTC)
Also there needs to be a better mechanism for "exceptions". I've done a lot of work with address ambiguity in apps using location and following long consensus discussion it was agreed how I'd be able to put in exceptions for addresses. That didn't stop the style police going through some several months later and undoing it because of "site policy". PsamatheM (talk) 14:09, 28 January 2020 (UTC)
I appreciate your taking the time to express your opinions, but I really can't agree with much of what you posted above. Exceptions can't be the default, by definition. And in terms of postcodes, there are specific countries that are accepted exceptions to the rule (see the "Address" field of Wikivoyage:Listings#Template parameters), again because of discussions. And I'm sorry, but people who aren't willing to engage in discussions when their edits seem on the face of them to deviate from site policy, guidelines or style just aren't suited for Wikis. As for the specific edits you're alluding to in your last paragraph, those can be reverted easily with a stated reason and should be, and it presumably wouldn't take that much time or effort to do so. And if you patrolled recent changes a lot on this site you would very quickly revise your opinion that people listing tours are usually independent travelers, not touts. Meanwhile, aside from your global objections to what it means to operate within a consensus, do you have any comments on the form of words for this proposed bullet, which would at least advance things somewhat toward the direction you want? Ikan Kekek (talk) 14:31, 28 January 2020 (UTC)
@Ikan Kekek: I probably expressed myself badly as my comment was not about making exceptions the default nor about not working under "consensus". It was more about the starting point. My comment about touts, spams, etc. was that they would fall outside my suggestions (not that they be allowed) - intending that my suggestions only related to genuine content. At present the first action when something seems to contravene policy is to delete it and wait. Many occasional contributors in mid travels will probably not notice it's gone. My suggestion was more that the starting point should be to leave it up there and request justification for the exception. People mid-travels when then find something don't have time to keep pouring through change logs, etc, (that's for people sitting at home long term). As I said elsewhere, I'm struggling to even backup my photos to the cloud at the moment so if I make a change I can't keep patrolling to monitor it (and past changes). Much of the information this site needs if from people travelling. If consensus emerges then a decision has been reached, go with the consensus but that can take time, comment, response, etc. and all over one listing when there are so many content issues that people could spend time addressing. I'd don't object about working within consensus, but there are moderately few regular contributors here so consensus discussions are "limited" e.g. the postcode being left off in France creating address ambiguity. PsamatheM (talk) 02:09, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
Thanks. I get your point, and the way I'd rephrase it is that if we know someone is definitely a good-faith user, we may want to be slower to delete things they add. That's a valid suggestion. Ikan Kekek (talk) 03:27, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
A bit off the main subject matter being discussed here but probably not warranting a "policy" or wider debate - I have on occasions seen new added listings being deleted because "we already have plenty in that category" (which is fair enough, it's not a listings site). But where it's a valid listing the only issue being already plenty of similar listings I'd suggest one of the older listings be deleted instead and the new one remain. The new one is up-to-date whereas some of the older ones may be out of date (or even closed down). I.e. prefer recent/current info over old possibly incorrect info. PsamatheM (talk) 04:34, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
In the abstract, I take your point, but I'd really have to see a specific case to judge whether that's what's going on. I'd still like to know what you think of the specific form of words I propose above, though. Ikan Kekek (talk) 07:24, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
@Ikan Kekek: I will comment, but first a question (is anything ever straight forward with me?). I accept that policies have to pretty specific but can there also be "Guidelines" on implementing policies (maybe a section under the relevant policy? Reason for question is your comment the way I'd rephrase it is that if we know someone is definitely a good-faith user, we may want to be slower to delete things they add which I agree with but I would guess would be difficult to incorporate into a "policy" but is something that could be part of a Guideline (on implementing the policy). PsamatheM (talk) 10:41, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
It's something we could consider adding somewhere, yes. We've been hit with lots of vandalism lately, and everyone who patrols recent changes a lot deals with touting all the time, so we may sometimes be hastier than we should with people who are editing in good faith, but we patrol in good faith, too, so this might be something better to keep in mind than to post specific language for. In the past, we were way too patient with some bad-faith users who also made a lot of valuable, good-faith edits but created a poisonous working environment for lots of people who left, so bending over backwards the other way as a rule would be a difficult sell. But that said, it could be discussed, though I'm not sure which page is the best one for a discussion of this and will have to think about it. But we patrollers do discuss this on each others' user talk pages sometimes, suggesting to others that maybe they shouldn't have reverted x or y or asking why a reversion was made (and the answer is often a good one). Ikan Kekek (talk) 11:38, 29 January 2020 (UTC)

For travellers used to wikis but with little time at the moment, someone reverting the edits too hastily and them not noticing is no big deal. The big deal is them being scared away, as the reversions can easily be reverted once the discussion has been had. A seasoned user knows that, and probably also knows the listing is an edge case, which would need to be discussed, but a newbie might only notice the listing did not stick and might not notice a message on their talk page or in the revert comment. If they don't, they will hardly note a discussion and even less probably take part in it. And an added listing will in itself hardly be a reason to change our guidelines. So yes, I see the problem, but I don't see any real solution being proposed. —The preceding comment was added by LPfi (talkcontribs)