Travellers looking for a guide free of ads and full of crowd-sourced information will want to mark down Jan. 15 on their calendars. According to Skift.com, Wikivoyage, Wikimedia's entry into the world of travel guides, is set to officially launch in a matter of days.
A sneak peek of Wikivoyage is available now, but visitors should note that it's currently in beta form, meaning it's still in development and lacks the polish of other sites. In terms of what users can expect, Wikivoyage will hold information on destinations, highlighting things like nightlife, hotels, hostels and restaurant recommendations. The site will also stay true to its company's roots, says Wikipedia's founder Jimmy Wales.
In an interview with Stephen Colbert, Wales said the site would be ad-free, just like the main Wikipedia page. And like the original, themed pages like "Destination of the Month" can be edited by anyone. As the Christian Science Monitor notes, the ad-free policy will allow Wikivoyages to stand out in a crowd dominated by travel sites that are heavy on the ads.
"Being 'fair' does not necessarily mean being 'nice.' We have a mission to make (among other things) a reliable and complete travel guide," an organizer wrote on the project's page, adding that, "...a travel guide that doesn't give qualitative information about the things it describes isn't reliable or complete. We need to call a spade a spade; if a restaurant is crowded, loud, and overpriced, we need to say so."
For the most part, first impressions seem to be positive. As Wired puts it, "articles are actually quite useful because it’s one page of all the very basic information you need to navigate a new city, country, or theme park." For example, a visit to the page on Walt Disney World is filled with comprehensive information on pricing, attractions, lodging, weather and methods of getting there. On the other hand, the Kazakhstan page, while fleshed out, lacks detail when compared to the pages of other destinations, like Hong Kong.
When it launches, Wikivoyage will be available in nine languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Swedish, Spanish and Portuguese, after being in development for roughly six months.