Launched: Online Crowd-Sourced Travel Guides

Move over guidebooks and travel rags, there's a new travel publishing giant in town, and it's gunning for #1...Wikimedia? On Tuesday, Wikimedia, the people behind Wikipedia, announced the launch of WikiVoyage, a new, encyclopedic website dedicated to providing free, crowd-sourced, non-commercial travel content to the world at large. Already, there are around 50,000 articles written in nine languages (26,732 of them in English as of this writing) that Wikimedia claims are edited by a core of around 200 volunteer editors.

"There's a huge global demand for travel information, but very few sources are both comprehensive and non-commercial," said Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation in a press release. "That's about to change. Wikivoyage is a great, useful service for travelers."

What does it all add up to, though? Well, for starters, a ton of information. On Buffalo, the smallish post-industrial city in upstate New York where I spent many of my formative years, there are 45,000 (!) words—that's roughly 180 pages of text in standard manuscript formatting. That's a lot to take in, especially for a place that's not exactly considered a big travel destination (even New York State travel guidebooks rarely dedicate more than a handful of pages to its second city). Comprehensive? Yes. But inspiring travel literature this is not, presented, as it is, in a straighforward, even encylopedic way. For example, there are no fewer than two dozen airport-area hotels listed by price range, along with each of their individual amenities.

In other words, there's no sense of curated recommendations. It's objective to a fault. Nobody's there telling you, 'Check out this must-see museum,' or 'The best local place to go hiking is a deep gorge to the south called Zoar Valley.' What's there is plenty of useful supplementary info for travelers, from overviews that include historical and political lessons to practical tips for getting around, finding accommodation, and staying safe and healthy.

So while we doubt WikiVoyage is anywhere close to becoming the leading travel content provider on the web, it might be worth scoping out before your next big trip.

Via Condé Nast Traveler.