Travel: Welcome to Wiki-holidays

The online encyclopaedia has launched a user-edited travel guide. So does that spell curtains for Lonely Planet and Co? Will Coldwell finds out

This week the Wikimedia Foundation launched its latest open source enterprise; Wiki-voyage, "a free web-based travel guide written by volunteer authors". In case you're wondering, yes, that definition comes from its Wikipedia page. Shoot me.

Formed somewhat controversially by disgruntled members of the independent Wikitravel community, the site already looks poised for rapid growth. But what the new site will add to the travelling experience is yet to be garnered. Indeed, the bland yet reliable Wikipedia is not known for its colourful anecdotes involving Tuk Tuks and Delhi belly.

A case in point is this line from the page dedicated to our capital: "If you ask a Londoner where the centre of London is, you are likely to get a wry smile. This is because historically London was two cities: a commercial city and a separate government capital." With that kind of content a wry smile seems optimistic. "For the average traveller, it's probably not going to replace printed guides," says Tom Morris, a software developer and Wikipedia administrator who has been involved with Wikivoyage since the launch. "But it will be good for niche projects.

"There's a community looking into writing travel guides specifically for people with children, so there's now a New York Children's guide. Just today they set up a new project for LGBT travellers.

"At the moment people are throwing ideas around and it's a bit anarchic, but you only need one group of niche obsessive people to get together and they can do something really interesting. The internet is very good at bringing obsessive people together."

Those already working in the travel industry will be watching the progress of the Wikivoyage project closely.

"It's a development we're interested in watching play out as we're also taking the path of encouraging user generated interaction," says Joanna Kirby, publisher of Rough Guides. For travel writer David Whitley, who runs the Grumpy Traveller blog, crowdsourced travel sites are a mixed blessing for tourists.

"They have thousands of people contributing, so you'll find things which aren't in the guide books because the guidebook writers never heard of it. They're also very up to date.

"But they lack editorial judgement – you just get a thousand people saying: 'This is great'."

Whatever the quality of the content, there are still some technical hurdles to overcome before digital guides take over, not least the extortionate cost of 3G roaming charges.

"I wouldn't want to leave an iPad in my bag on the beach," says Whitley, "and I certainly wouldn't want to be reliant on my phone in the middle of the Australian outback."

And with Wikipedia's propensity to be tweaked at by unscrupulous users, would you really risk asking a foreign barman for a pint with a Wikiphrasebook?

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable