During an interview on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” earlier this week, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said the website is a priority for the company.
“We have a travel site that’s opening up soon; we will see how it goes,” Wales said.
The new endeavor has been softly launched since September, and already has more than 26,000 articles in eight languages. Articles are laid out in the familiar Wikipedia format, providing historical and geographic information as well as information on what to eat, drink and do in certain locations.
“Wikivoyage is built with the spirit of sharing knowledge that makes travel so enjoyable,” reads the “about” page on the Wikivoyage website. “Whenever travellers meet each other on the road, they swap info about the places they came from and ask questions about places they’re going. We want to make it easy to share that knowledge and let others share it; our copyleft license means that the facts you know can spread far and wide.”
Rivals Wikitravel, a commercial travel wiki operated by Internet Brands, seem more than unhappy about the new endeavor. According to PC World, the company filed suit against two former volunteers, charging them with theft of intellectual property and unfair competition in a criminal conspiracy. But Wikimedia Foundation has fired back, seeking a judicial declaration that Internet Brands had no lawful right to impede, disrupt or block the creation of the new project.
The good news for travelers is that the guides can be viewed on desktop, tablet and smartphone, not to mention freely downloaded and printed. Although it’s too early to say for sure, the ever-updated website seems as though it will give traditional guidebooks like Lonely Planet, Fodor’s and Frommer’s a run for their money.