Wikivoyage Association (German: Wikivoyage e.V.), a Germany based non-profit founded in 2006, is the former host of the Wikivoyage travel guide wiki, which moved to Wikimedia Foundation in November 2012. Wikivoyage Association is currently applying to become affiliated with Wikimedia as a thematic organisation, and proposes to support the Wikivoyage wiki in various ways including fund raising, promotion and technical development. Wikivoyage Association membership is not required for participation in Wikivoyage but interested people are warmly invited to join.
Wikivoyage is a free web-based travel guide for both travel destinations and travel topics written by volunteer authors. This project has the long-term objective to become a complete and up-to-date worldwide travel guide. The name Wikivoyage is a blend of the Hawaiian word “Wiki” meaning “fast” and the French word “Voyage” for travel, journey, voyage, or trip. The technology called Wiki allows any internet user to create, change or illustrate any article at any time directly and easily with a web browser and without any specialist knowledge.
Many details are subject to constant change. Wikivoyagers—these are the numerous authors of this project—do not only travel around the globe. They exchange their knowledge with other travellers and make it freely available to anyone interested in. Wikivoyage is free contrary to conventional travel guides. The information is freely available on the internet, and everyone can use and copy it if the authors, the type of the free license and the origin are indicated. This is based on the copyleft license “Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike” which allows a commercial use, too. In addition to the online version an offline version can be downloaded free of charge.
The figures on 25 August 2012:
- Wikivoyage:de — 12,012 articles
- Wikivoyage:it — 2,387 articles
- Wikivoyage:shared — 29,462 media files
Wikivoyage and Wikitravel
Wikitravel is the free travel guide project that was founded in English in July 2003 by Evan Prodromou (Evan) and Michele Ann Jenkins (Maj). It is our origin or mother (if you like this better). Its German branch of Wikitravel has been started in September 2004 and it opened officially on October 7th 2004. Already in summer 2005, the German version of Wikitravel was the second-biggest after the English original.
Some authors noticed over time, that the management style and the organizational structure of Wikitravel didn’t match their ideas and ideals anymore, but they didn’t see any possibility to bring about changes. On 20/4/2006, Evan and Maj surprisingly announced that they had sold the rights of the internet domain wikitravel.org to the American e-commerce company Internet Brands. This was a trigger for a group consisting mainly of German-speaking Wikitravellers to search for new paths. After long discussions and planning, the decision has been taking shape to pursue the goals of Wikitravel within a new project. To operate the new project, in September 2006 Wikivoyage was founded.
At the beginning of 2012 a group of Wikitravel community members came up with the idea to move to another place. They started talks with Wikivoyage and Wikimedia to reunite the separated communities, establishing a travel guide as an official Wikimedia project. Some weeks before the Wikimania 2012 the official proposal was published on meta. The RFC ended on August, 23rd, with an overwhelming support for the new travel project. After the RfC has been closed, Wikivoyage and former Wikitravel community members started to migrate content from Wikitravel into Wikivoyage, as an intermediate step for a future Wikimedia travel guide.
The Wikivoyage association
Wikivoyage is a charitable, non-profit association. It was founded in September 2006 in Stuttgart and is currently registered at the registration court in the town of Halle (Saale).
- Purpose of the association: The Association is aimed at promoting education and knowledge of all countries and regions in the world as well as understanding among nations. For that purpose free information shall be compiled, collected and spread in a non-discriminatory manner. The purpose section of the bylaws is pretty similar to Wikimedia Deutschland's bylaws.
- Membership: At the moment the association counts 10 members, mainly from Germany. One member hails from Belgium. The Wikivoyage e.V. is open to everybody from around the World - of course especially to contributors to Wikivoyage and Wikitravel to strengthen the community and strengthen the interworking between the language versions. We are aware that our membership size is below the recommended treshold for new Wikimedia organizations. However, since we do exist as an association for six years, we believe that we've proven to be a viable organization. Increasing the membership is one of the association's tasks for the near future. The association wants to become more international.
- The general assembly is held once a year. Exceptional assemblies are possible at any time. The gatherings can be held online. These online gatherings were explicitly accepted by the registration court, so the association is well prepared for international members.
- Communications: A public wiki is used for the association, covering discussions, resolution making, meeting minutes and reports. It is readable for everyone but only members can write on it. The association's working language is currently German, but the association is used to publish and discuss its decisions in English as well (see English edition of the association's wiki).
How to become a member?
- Member forms are available in English, German and Italian. Paying membership fees and donating is possible by bank tranfer or via direct debit authorisation (German residency only). International payment (e.g. PayPal) will be established in 2013.
- The completed application forms should be sent to the board via post or email
- Stefan Fussan
Am Nordrand 44
- Stefan Fussan
Wikivoyage e.V. as a thematic organization
Wikivoyage e.V. plans to hand over its domain and the responsibility for operating the Wikivoyage project to the Wikimedia Foundation. A corresponding resolution has been made by the general assembly in June 2012. Part of this resolution is the goal to keep Wikivoyage as an association, becoming affiliated with Wikimedia on an organizational level.
Since we will no longer have to take care of running the servers (our #1 priority so far) we want to increase our activities in the following areas:
- Outreach - attracting more active community members and raising awareness for free travel content
- Community support - supporting volunteer editors in order to contribute free travel knowledge more effectively
- Communication: facilitate discussions and flow of information between the travel community and the broader Wikimedia world
- Software development - supporting the development of MediaWiki features to accommodate the specific needs of a travel community
We are aiming to do the above not only for Germany/German language, but on an international level. However, to some extent this will depend on whether former Wikitravel community members or other volunteers from other countries want to join us. It's hard to tell now, since currently everybody seems to focus on getting the new project up and running, not so much caring about a supporting organizational infrastructure.
We don't want to claim to be international in scope as long as the reality is different. In no way we want to stand in the way of other future organizations, aiming to support the international travel community. However, we're ready to transform into an international organization, with the support of the forming Wikimedia travel community.
Once the new project is up and running and Wikivoyage has been accepted as a Thematic Organization we will actively reach out to the Wikimedia travel community to become members of the association.
Cooperation within Wikimedia
We're very open to work closely with existing Wikimedia organizations. Beside our conversations with the Wikimedia Foundation we have already started to build a relationship with Wikimedia Germany (attending their general assembly in Spring 2012) and the German-speaking Wikimedia community (attending WikiCon conference in Austria in September 2012).
Since transfering our domain and related trademarks to the Wikimedia Foundation is a huge step for us, we would need at least some certainty that Wikivoyage as an association can continue to exist as a Wikimedia affiliate. Since we do need a final approval from our general assembly for both (domain/trademark transfer as well as becoming a thematic organization) we're imagining the following process:
- Application to the AffCom to become a Thematic Organization
- Approval by the AffCom/Board (preliminary, pending domain and trademark transfer)
- Approval by the general assembly of Wikivoyage e.V. (including bylaw changes if necessary at this point)
Since the migration of the travel projects is already making good progress, we're aiming for an (preliminary) approval as a thematic organization rather sooner than later.