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January 11, 2013

Wikipedia to Launch a New and Free Travel Wiki, Wikivoyage, on January 15th

By David Gitonga, TMCnet Contributing Writer

Anyone who has searched for information online and stumbled upon Wikipedia will no doubt be amazed by the wealth of updated information that this online wiki holds. Unfortunately, travelers, it has been a struggle having to use Google (News - Alert) Maps on a smartphone while relying on other sites like TripAdvisor to bring up richer and more informative content. The Wikipedia team wants to change all that with the official launch of its new travel-focused wiki called Wikivoyage on January 15th.

Speaking on the Colbert Show, the Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales (News - Alert) said that the project has been under development for the last five to six months but has been live since late September. The not-for-profit website includes 26,500 destination guides that have been written by volunteer contributors and that adopt the Wikipedia-style of articles. Internet Brands, the owner of Wikitravel, filed a lawsuit against volunteers but the Wikimedia Foundation, which is the parent of Wikipedia, agreed to go ahead and host and offer support for the new global travel wiki.

Internet Brands’ lawsuit claimed that its intellectual property had been violated by Wikimedia and Wikitravel volunteers, calling it a rebel effort by its editors. According to Jani Patokallio, a Wikitravel admin, software at Wikitravel has not been updated for five years and the site still uses static flat images. He said that the site is “frozen in time. No maps, no pinpoints and you can’t book hotels,” which has prompted the mass exodus from Wikitravel.

Wikivoyage articles will provide visitors with rich valuable content. For example, travelers will be able to determine airlines flying to their destination, how much tickets will cost and basic information on how to navigate their destinations.

Even in the age of smartphone-enabled travel, there’s probably room for Wikivoyage which allows users to save content on their mobile devices and get access to it even without an Internet connection. There are already established travel sites and Jimmy and his team will likely need a Wikipedia-sized mob to build its repository of travel guides while keeping marketers at bay. It’s going to be a tough call, but if they were able to pull it off with Wikipedia, who says they can’t do it again?

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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