Wikivoyage is a project to create a free, complete, up-to-date and reliable world-wide travel guide. “The traveller comes first” is the principle which every Wikivoyager should respect in every aspect of Wikivoyage. We are writing a travel guide for real travellers and not just for the pleasure of writing alone.
This basic goal means we would like you to:
- give a fair and honest description of hotels, restaurants, sites of interest and so on without being influenced by commercial or personal interest or preferences.
- use an easy-to-find structure.
- avoid boring our readers with your personal, political or touristic opinions. Instead, make them eager to travel to develop their own points of view and experiences (- maybe the hardest part, but keep trying).
- share your enthusiasm about places or travelling as a lifestyle.
Wikivoyage articles should be useful for at least the following purposes:
- For on-line use by travellers on the road, huddled in a late-night Internet café in some dark jungle, who need up-to-the-minute information on lodging, transportation, food, nightlife, and other necessities;
- For off-line use by travellers on the road sitting in a train with a subset of Wikivoyage on their PDA, laptop, mobile phone, or digital camera.
- For on-line use by travellers still planning to review destinations, plan itineraries, make reservations, and get excited about their trip;
- For individual article printouts, that is, for printing a list of museums or karaoke bars and putting it in your back pocket for when you need it -- or making a photocopy when someone else does;
- For ad-hoc travel guides, small fit-to-purpose travel books that match a particular itinerary;
- For inclusion in other travel books, giving up-to-date information for travel guide publishers.
- For editing of travel topics for special interest groups.
There are probably hundreds of other uses for Wikivoyage articles; these are ones we try to keep in mind while authoring and editing pages.
These are some specific non-goals; things people might think we want to do with Wikivoyage, but we don't:
- Create a travel essay anthology. Wikivoyage is not a travel magazine. Articles should be directed towards practical information about travelling.
- Create a collection of personal travel journals. Wikivoyagers usually have interesting stories about their personal adventures which, sadly, need to be put somewhere else on the Web.
- Provide a vacation photo gallery service. Photographs and illustrations should be targeted towards illustrating destinations and sights, not towards showing Grandma how big the mai-tai was that you drank at the luau.
- Provide a personal homepage service. Each registered user on Wikivoyage has a User page; these should be used to support the development of the travel guide, and not as an All About Me and My Cat Web site. One or two photographs on your User page is reasonable; more than 5 is really pushing it.
- Create a travel chat board. There are plenty of Web-based and email discussion groups on the Internet, where people can talk about their experiences, ask questions, complain, make friends and joke around. Wikivoyage has talk pages for each article, but these should be used to develop the article itself, and not as a "comments" area. Anyone can edit a Wikivoyage article; if you have useful information about a topic, put it in the article itself.
- Make an advertising brochure. Wikivoyage of course has listings and information about travel-related businesses around the world. We would be thrilled to have representatives of these businesses keep those records up-to-date. However, blatant advertising is not welcome, and overcompetitive acts (like deleting information about rival businesses) is gravely deprecated.
- Produce a Yellow Pages of restaurants, hotels, or bars for a city. City guides should certainly include information for travel-related companies, but these should be kept at a useful number. Think of friends from out of town asking you where they should go -- you wouldn't list all 200 possibilities, but 5-10 options for a particular type, budget, or part of town.
- Build a Web directory. Wikivoyage articles can and should have links to external resources about destinations, itineraries, travel-oriented companies and other travel-related Web sites. However, it's not a goal to collect all links about any destination. External links should support and complement the content of articles; they're not a goal in and of themselves.
- Make a travel guide supplement. The Wiki technique we use for Wikivoyage makes it possible for us to include information that's not in other travel guides. This doesn't mean that we only include information not found in other guides. Wikivoyage aims to be a complete travel guide -- not just an additional resource on the side of traditional guides.
- Make an atlas. Although travel is intimately intertwined with geography, Wikivoyage does not describe geographical features of the Earth just because they're there. Nor do we create separate articles for every crossroads with a name on the map.
- Make an encyclopedia. Wikivoyage aims to give people useful information for travelling all over the world, not to document everything there is on the planet or how it ended up that way. The place of exhaustive, detailed descriptions and lists with lots of references and footnotes would be rather Wikipedia then Wikivoyage.
There are probably lots of other near-miss goals that people might think we have; if needed, we'll list those here, too.