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Wikivoyage turns ten, but where to now?; Wikipedia Zero expands into India

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By The ed17

Wikivoyage anniversary

A Wikivoyage-themed cake … the site's community members are celebrating their 10th anniversary this week

Contributors to Wikivoyage, the sister project adopted by the Wikimedia Foundation last year, are celebrating their 10th anniversary this week.

The milestone comes as another entry in Wikivoyage's convoluted history. Wikitravel, as it was then known, was created by Evan Prodromou and Michele Ann Jenkins on 24 July 2003. When they sold the site to Internet Brands in 2006, the German-language contributors decided to fork, creating the original Wikivoyage. Both sites continued unabated until 2012, when frustrated Wikitravel editors decided to fork the site again by rejoining Wikivoyage and moving under the WMF's umbrella.

These maneuvers set the stage for a dramatic climax when Internet Brands sued two prominent volunteers who were in favor of the move. When those matters were settled and the initial technical infrastructure was set in place, Wikivoyage was formally relaunched on 15 January 2013, with its sites covering nine languages.

The Wikitravel and Wikivoyage communities, then, are both celebrating the 10th anniversary of their foundings. Wikitravel currently has several main-page banners promoting the milestone, while Wikivoyage's reaction was more muted. A "garish" red banner was put up for about 10 minutes, but most contributors on the site's Travellers' pub were content to silently celebrate with additional content work. Others contended that it is not worth angering Wikitravel again. The site is planning a large public party for January 2014, when Wikivoyage will have been in its current WMF guise for one calendar year.

In my opinion, we need to put on the back burner things like adding images to articles and cajoling Wikipedia to continue adding interwiki links to us, and go full throttle in solving our Google problem ... All other concerns regarding boosting readership are, frankly, secondary. Failing a solution to our Google problem, we are going to end up the dead site, not Wikitravel.

AndreCarrotflower, "Wikivoyage:Travellers' pub", 25 July 2013.)

The anniversary appears to have sparked animated discussion on the English Wikivoyage as to the site's future. Wikitravel, despite its much reduced editorbase after the fork, is still ranked by Alexa as the 3,162nd most popular website in the world, which can be contrasted with Wikivoyage at 32,586th. Wikitravel's popularity can be attributed to its Google popularity, where over 36% of its traffic is referred from. Only 21% of Wikivoyage traffic, on the other hand, is from Google sites.

There appears to be considerable concern about the technical dimensions that might play into the popularity or otherwise of the site. JamesA has commented:


The popularity of Wikivoyage varies considerably depending on the country. The commercial Wikitravel is far more popular than Wikivoyage in the US and the UK, showing that there is much room to grow in the English-language Wikivoyage. Unsurprisingly (given its lengthy history as a German-language site), Wikivoyage receives the greatest number of page views from Germany, 15.5%. Its Alexa rating in Germany is more than 4000 places below that of the commercial Wikitravel.

While there is cause for hope in the page views, which have risen on average after the expected large launch in January, Wikivoyage regulars recognize that their Google referrals will have to rise if they are to surpass their rival.

In other Wikivoyage news, the site is still going through the process of choosing a new logo. As we reported last month, the current logo was subject to a cease-and-desist letter from the World Trade Organization, forcing the WMF to call for a new design. Submissions have closed, and voting will begin on 26 July. Readers can view the gallery of entries, from the weird to the gender-exclusive to the promising. The entries are also displayed in a table on the talk page, with author information. The voting system will comprise two rounds: one to select the concept, and one to select the actual logo.

One of two sailboat entries in the Wikivoyage logo competition
North south east west
"Magic carpet"

Sixth mobile provider partners with Wikipedia Zero

The Wikimedia Foundation has announced via press release that it has partnered with Aircel to provide free mobile access to Wikipedia.

The move makes Aircel, an Indian mobile network operator with over 60 million subscribers and a market share of 7.33%, the sixth company to join with the Foundation in its Wikipedia Zero program, which aims to provide mobile users in developing countries with free access to Wikipedia articles. The number of individuals using the service will now be increased to an estimated 470 million users, according to Kul Takanao Wadhwa (WMF Head of Mobile), though previous estimates have ranged from as low as 330 to 410 to 483 million, and the current estimate elsewhere is 517 million.

Providers can choose to allow free access to the regular mobile sites and/or zero.wikipedia.org, a text-only version of the regular mobile site to save on bandwidth costs. Aircel has chosen to do both, in English and all nineteen Indic-language Wikipedias.

Wikipedia Zero forms a large part of the Foundation's initiative to expand into the developing world. As Jimmy Wales stated on 22 July, "It is our mission to provide free access to everyone in the world. [Wikipedia Zero] is one of the most exciting things we are doing and we're only just getting started." Traditional personal computers can be scarce in these regions, and those that are present are extremely valuable. As Pgallert explained in the Wikimedia Blog earlier this month, on an unrelated topic:


As mobile devices begin to outnumber traditional computers in the next few years, the Foundation expects that many of the next 500 million people to access Wikimedia projects will use mobile devices. The first iteration of this is the Wikipedia Zero initiative, which "make[s] free knowledge more accessible" through "help[ing] them discover it and ... reduc[ing] barriers to accessing it." Planned additions include enabling individuals without data-enabled phones, through receiving parts of Wikipedia articles through SMS or USSD.

Still, as Siska Doviana—the chair of Wikimedia Indonesia, which is located in one of the largest developing nation-states in the world today—pointed out to the Signpost via email, English-speaking people in these developing countries are typically in the upper class, which is not necessarily a demographic targeted by Wikipedia Zero. While this latest partnership also opens access to the nineteen Indic-language Wikipedias, nearly all have large gaps in their editorial coverage and few active editors. The Hindi Wikipedia has over 100,000 articles, but only 196 editing editors; by the same metric, the second-largest, Nepal Bhasa, has 70,000 but just ten active contributors. This would naturally lead one to wonder if the question should be about expanding content contributors rather than increasing access, but that was answered today by the Wikimedia Foundation's engineering team when they fully enabled editing from mobile.wikipedia.org.

More information on the Wikipedia Zero initiative can be found on the Wikimedia Foundation's official website, under "Wikipedia Zero" and "mobile partnerships".

In brief

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Not a word on the decrease in total edits after the visual editor was made opt-out for registered editors and compulsory for IP editors? Really? EllenCT (talk) 21:42, 25 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]

  • Ellen, could you link us to where you got this information from? Tony (talk) 08:12, 26 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
(not ellen) https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:VisualEditor%27s_effect_on_newly_registered_editors/Results 192.12.81.1 (talk) 09:32, 26 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks. Is that based on pre-roll-out data (up to 1 July)? And I've heard rumours that a bug affected the gathering of those data. Getting too technical for me, but just wondering ... Tony (talk) 10:13, 26 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Tony, I'm not sure whether it is final yet as the page has been through many revisions, some quite major, but Figure 2 at [1] looks particularly troubling and I hope you ask about it. EllenCT (talk) 23:03, 27 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
The problems with the study itself appear to be minimal (false whitelisting being the biggest culprit - estimated at ~2% of test participants). The only statistical issue I can see is that its unclear why the std error bars are so large with such a large population - probably real though. The results are mostly negative - users edit less, less often, less successfully. Whilst some of the results fall outside statistical certainty, they all trend in bad directions. There was one exception to these mostly negative results I noted, good faith edit fractions go up (statistically significant, and usefully - maybe some "bad faith" edits are due to user confusion?). Its odd that WMF doesn't look at these results in their meeting, and that the A/B results were not available (though conducted) before the rollout. That seems a poor use of data. 192.12.81.1 (talk) 11:50, 26 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • I have some sorry confusions about Wikivoyage anniversary. It is the anniversary (10th) of Wikitravel.org (where also I am editeur), but you say it is Wikivoyage anniversary? But Wikivoyage was made in 2006... So ten years not until 2016. And ten years of English Wikivoyage (even more confusing making-- does each language version have its own anniversary??) not until January 2023! I see that some Wikivoyage members are from Wikitravel, but what are they celebrating? It cannot be the "community" because they did not all join at one time at Wikitravel... So perhaps maybe the proper title is "Some Wikivoyage Members Celebrate 10th Anniversary of Wikitravel That They Used To Edit." It it just strange the way you write it. Do you celebrate a wedding anniversary still of a woman/man you broke up with? Wikivoyage was born 2006. They can party in 3 more years if they still are existing. BostonMarketChicken (talk) 22:53, 25 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • Welcome Internet Brand employee (as they and the vandals are more or less the only people left at WT). You seem to misunderstand how wikis work. It is the community that has been alive since 2003. In fact the user who made the first edit to this content, has not made a change to WT since Jan of 2012 and is know editing at WV.[2][3] In fact I think IB removed his admin rights at WT some time ago as he is not listed here[4]. He however is an admin at WV. So yes the WV community stretches all the way back to 2003 and includes the original founder of the idea and the guy who made the first edit. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 05:05, 26 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
As someone amusingly pointed out on twitter, a group of ex Wikitravel editors, who are now at wikivoyage, deciding to celebrate a 10th anniversary, is like America deciding to celebrate a 1500th birthday because they used to be part of England. Pathetic attempt to look older & more established (and relevant...) by riding Wikitravel's coattails. Sad. You people are really obsessed with internet brand too. BostonMarketChicken (talk) 17:51, 26 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Ah yes, that would be the internet troll that I made the unfortunate mistake of responding to. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 21:37, 26 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • Meh, Wikivoyage. I quickly stopped caring for it when most of my edits were reverted, as apparently adding links to Wikipedia is forbidden ([5]), even if Wikipedia has a useful page on a subject. If Wikitravel wants to boycott Wikipedia, I don't see why we should care about it. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 10:27, 26 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Yes Wikipedia has a policy against doing just that on Wikipedia. It do not see this as unreasonable especially since there is a link to the corresponding Wikipedia article on every page. Look to the left under related sites. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 15:48, 26 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
You misunderstand the issue. The links I wanted to add were to related Wikipedia article, equivalent of blue links, for topics Wikivoyage has no articles - things like specific museums, buildings, organizations, etc. I see them as equivalent to image articles. For a small, slow growing project, when we can expect those entries to be created in many years in the future, if ever, not adding those links is, IMHO, a major gutting of usefulness. But it is not a fight I care to fight, other than as long as it is the case, I don't feel like wasting my time contributing to Wikivoyage. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 22:04, 26 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
So you think contributing to a travel guide is a waste of time because you can't add multiple links to an encyclopedia? That's a very odd metric. Anyway, if you'd bothered to ask someone why we might have certain rules in place, maybe you'd have the opportunity to gain greater understanding. Powers T 02:28, 27 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Given that most tourists would be pleased to gain instant access from a WV ariticle to WP articles about places, buildings, monuments, and other tourist attractions treated in the WV article, reverting the judicious insertion of links to related WP articles seems like a xenophobic practice. But WV needs unique guidelines to ensure that it doesn't become a link-farm. More broadly, I've encountered a resistance to change at WV that is regrettable in the light of its sagging model. It needs attention if it is to retain (even increase) its share of the readership and editorship—there's increasingly good competition around. Tony (talk) 02:35, 27 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Actually, you've chosen to interpret opposition to proposals which you happen favor as a general resistance to change. They're not the same thing. The site has changed considerably since the migration. Powers T 12:01, 27 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Errr ... almost the same thing. Out of interest, can you bullet the main ways in which the site has changed since migration just seven months ago? Tony (talk) 12:49, 27 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
If I must, though I can't warrant that it's exhaustive (and note that migration was ten months ago, not seven):
  • All-new mainpage (spearheaded by a newcomer to the community, I might add, and enthusiastically embraced)
  • Implementation of page-heading banners to increase visual appeal of articles
  • Progress toward dynamic maps generated on the fly from article listings
  • Implementation of the Tourist Office, where users can ask travel questions (including a link from Wikipedia's Reference Desk)
  • Conversion from legacy XML listing tags to proper MediaWiki templates
  • Conversion from footnote-style external links to more-standard front-linking
  • Better organization of travel topics
  • Implementation of clickable maps (on high-level geographic articles like continents and countries) for navigation
  • Establishment of Twitter and Facebook accounts
  • Establishment of cooperative agreements between Wikivoyage and official tourist/visitor bureaus
-- Powers T 15:42, 27 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • Thanks for the story and especially for quoting and linking to JamesA. I've now reached out to WMF's heads of Analytics and Operations to ask them to follow up (regarding Wikivoyage requesting better analytics to help them drive readership). Sumana Harihareswara, Wikimedia Foundation Engineering Community Manager (talk) 14:14, 26 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
    • Thank you a whole lot Sumana for taking the time to reach out to them! And thanks to the editors of the Signpost for taking note of our pledge, I hope we will get a major boost in our efforts thanks to that. On balance, the three logos selected for being presented at the Signpost are perhaps the three very worst ones submitted, so I hope this is just done not to promote any particular option while the voting's on (as those are quite unlikely to garner much support, hopefully). Have a great day everybody and head over to Wikivoyage to chip in your bit about your favourite destination - or your hometown! CU there, PrinceGloria (talk) 15:53, 26 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
      • Prince, I chose them because they're hideous, in the hope that readers would be aghast and go straight to vote for something more appropriate. The risk of unfairly advertising those candidate logos flickered through my mind, but I quickly dismissed this under the circumstances. I think Ed might have changed one of them before publication. Tony (talk) 14:52, 28 July 2013 (UTC) Ah, yes, the blue boat is a substitue ... vaguely presentable, actually. Tony (talk) 14:53, 28 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • Truly fantastic news about Aircel deciding to join Wikimedia Zero! I have followed the work done in this field with great interest and I am very curious to know how long time the companies are bound to provide free access to the population in order to be able to take part in Wikimedia Zero? Best, John Andersson (WMSE) (talk) 22:42, 28 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
    • John Andersson, I asked Kul Wadhwa (Head of Mobile and Business Development at WMF) to respond to your question. He said: "3 years. However, the program is evaluated after the first year and can be terminated by either party if there are issues one way or the other. However, we've been fine with all of our other partners so far  :)" Hope that helps! Sumana Harihareswara, Wikimedia Foundation Engineering Community Manager (talk) 16:08, 30 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]





       

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