This page is to explain what the migration of Wikitravel content and contributors to the Wikimedia Foundation means, why it is happening, and what to expect!
Questions and comments are heartily encouraged and recommended. Please post your questions on this FAQ's discussion page.
Please also take a look at Wikivoyage's Help:FAQ to better understand what Wikivoyage is!
Who is behind this effort?
Wikitravel's administrators have agreed unanimously to leave the website Wikitravel, hosted by Internet Brands, and to create a new site that will initially begin with the same content. The current plan is to have the new site hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, which is the non-profit that hosts Wikipedia and several other major wikis. The initial content will be the same, the core users (hopefully!) will be the same, and all of your contribution histories and article histories will be preserved in full.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to effectively contact the greater Wikitravel community to keep them aware of these changes and invite them to participate in these proposals, because Internet Brands has not permitted this discussion on Wikitravel.
What does a migration to WMF actually mean?
In short, it means that a new site will be created that will be managed by the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization responsible for sites such as Wikipedia and Wikinews. Content from Wikitravel and Wikivoyage will be copied to the new site, and the new site will begin with the same policies and guidelines as Wikitravel and Wikivoyage. The new site will not be required to use Wikipedia policies such as neutral point of view (NPOV) - the Wikimedia Foundation is not the same thing as Wikipedia!
For more information, please take a look at the proposal and the now closed Request for comment. It might also be good to read over the talk page of the proposal at Talk:Travel Guide, although the questions and answers there are geared towards helping Wikimedians, rather than Wikitravellers, understand what this proposal means. You may find that questions and answers on this page and its discussion page are better suited to help Wikitravellers make sense of all this.
When will the migration happen?
On September 6, 2012, the Wikimedia Foundation Board announced that the Board "supports the community’s decision and is moving forward with the creation of this new project." The exact date of launch remains unknown at this time, but a Beta site will likely be set up in early November.
Is this a fork?
Not exactly. A fork refers to the splitting of an online community to serve separate needs or desires. This migration, however, will involve the rejoining of the Wikitravel and Wikivoyage communities, which is in itself the exact opposite of a fork. It will also be a merger with the Wikimedia community. If a community remains at Wikitravel, then the migration will at least contain an element of a fork, but as of yet, not a single known Wikitravel user who is aware of the potential migration has expressed opposition to it (aside from, naturally, Internet Brands employees).
What is the reason for starting a new site?
The main reason for moving to a new site is that the most committed Wikitravel users feel that the site is dying a slow death, primarily due to issues related to the current host. Many Wikitravellers, including all of its administrators, have been disappointed with the lack of technical support from Internet Brands (Wikitravel's web host) in the past seven or so years since they acquired the site and trademark. In the past year, we have seen activity from Internet Brands' tech team, but the quality of technical support is still far below acceptable levels, even when servicing the most basic bug fixes. The upgrade from MediaWiki 1.11 to MediaWiki 1.17 was years too late (the current version of MediaWiki is 1.20), and the aftermath has seen the site plagued with debilitating bugs, exploited extensively by spambots that are now hijacking user sessions to cause damage in other contributors' names. For many users the slow site speed and editing bugs has made working on the site difficult to impossible. Moreover, the complete lack of feature development over seven years has caused the site to stagnate and fall behind other travel information sites.
Other concerns that have been raised about the current host include:
- Internet Brands has refused to release database dumps, which would be useful of re-users of Wikitravel content, an action which goes against the most basic spirit of the Creative Commons ShareAlike license that Wikitravel uses. This has hindered and prevented sensible and necessary things such as the development of third party apps for mobile phones. It also makes it harder to back up Wikitravel content, endangering the future of your hard work.
- Internet Brands has increased the monetization of the site without regard to community consensus. While there is a recognition that Wikitravel needs to generate revenue to pay for hosting, the original promise of "relevant, text-only ads" has given way to irrelevant image ads, with a new "booking bar" tool at the top of every page planned for the near future. This endangers our reputation—which we fight for daily—as a resource to help travelers, rather than a resource for advertisers to exploit travelers.
- Many potential contributors are uncomfortable or unwilling to contribute to a site that is run by a commercial entity.
Why move to Wikivoyage if the goal is to become a Wikimedia project?
There are two reasons for moving to Wikivoyage while simultaneously planning a migration to Wikimedia:
- Since the beginning of August the tools used by the Wikitravel community to create backups of Wikitravel content have been disabled, meaning that any contribution made to Wikitravel could not be backed up and would thus be lost when moving to a new host. Specifically, since Internet Brands does not release database dumps of the Wikitravel content, a tool called the Mediawiki API was used to create backups, but this tool was disabled on August 9, briefly re-enabled on August 15, and has been permanently disabled since August 19.
- Wikivoyage has agreed to become a part of the new Wikimedia travel site, assuming the WMF agrees to create a travel project. Moving the Wikitravel content and community to Wikivoyage will therefore make the eventual migration to Wikimedia simpler since all content will be coming from a single source. In addition, unlike Wikitravel, Wikivoyage can make database dumps of all content available during the migration, which makes the process of moving to a new host much easier.
What will the new site look like?
The plan is to start with the same content and guidelines that were in place on Wikitravel. All content from Wikitravel, including images and article history has been backed up here and is available for import into the new site with the following disclaimer:
- Content for the English and Shared language versions has been backed up through 02-August-2012.
- Content for all other language versions has been backed up through 08-August-2012.
Unfortunately, content added after the above dates was not backed up due to Internet Brands disabling Wikitravel's API, which was used for retrieving site content. Without this API functionality it is more difficult for Wikitravel content to be backed up by anyone other than Internet Brands. Contributions made to Wikitravel will be lost that were made on the English version or Shared after 2 August 2012 and all of the other language versions after 8 August 12. It may be necessary to manually add changes made after that date to the new site, and you are encouraged to do so.
If you want to contribute now, by all means, contribute here at Wikivoyage! All contributions here will be transferred to the new WMF site.
How will the new site be different?
In the new site, we will re-establish community control of not just the content of our collective project, but also development. Development will be led by volunteers from the Wikitravel, Wikivoyage, and all the other Wikimedia projects. Instead of the clumsy tech work that we have seen, we will have pro bono support from the best MediaWiki developers in the world. We will regularly release database dumps to encourage creative re-use of our work. With donations-based funding from the Wikimedia Foundation we will never again have any advertising. All our work will be backed up and preserved by a multitude of third parties, ensuring that it will never be lost.
What is the current status?
Several language versions of Wikivoyage are already up and running, including the English site, and Wikivoyage will move to the Wikimedia Foundation's servers shortly. Anyone can edit here, and we will be able to monitor positive contributions made to Wikitravel, and make sure they are also added here. (We won't work to preserve all the spam and advertising being added to Wikitravel, though!)
How can I get involved?
Above all, just edit Wikivoyage as you did Wikitravel in the past!
If you are interested in getting one of the language versions re-started that haven't yet re-opened, indicate your interest in starting a new language version. Some language versions are already good to go, with five or more volunteers to help keep the version running after launching, but several more do not have sufficient interest declared to open shop on Wikivoyage.
The current enormous task is on merging our image databases with that of Wikimedia Commons, and the groundwork for that effort is being laid both here and by a Wikimedia Commons task force.
Above all, feel free to ask questions. The following users have volunteered to be an immediate point of contact for such questions: