Wikipedia Will Officially Launch Travel Website Tuesday

Several sources are reporting the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation is slated to officially launch a travel website, Wikivoyage, this Tuesday, January 15. Similar to Wikipedia, the free website will be written by volunteer authors – except this website will solely focus on travel destinations and other travel topics, such as itineraries, phrasebooks and more.

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.

Galley Gossip: Why ring the flight attendant call light when you can send a tweet – and get results!

Recently I wrote a post, Flight attendant pet peeve #6 – the run around, about running the flight attendant ragged in flight. Now I wasn’t complaining about passengers who use their call lights. Not at all. It’s there for a reason. But there is a difference, a very big difference, between having needs and being needy. If you push the button once (or twice), I’d say you have a few needs you’d like to be met. That’s fine. But If you’re using it fifteen times on a three hour flight, you’re a bit needy. And that’s not so fine.

Speaking of having your needs met, this morning I read an interesting article about the power of Twitter in flight. By the way, did you know that I’m on twitter? Of course you may have heard that Oprah’s on twitter. Maybe even you’re on twitter. We’re all on twitter. If you’re not on twitter, perhaps it’s time to change that. Why? I’ll let James A Martin of PC World explain…

You’re on a plane, and you’re hungry. For whatever reason, the flight attendants have overlooked your meal, and now you’re frustrated. What do you do? You tweet about it. Someone from the airline sees your tweet and sends a message to the pilot. The pilot tells a flight attendant that the passenger in seat 3B (or whatever) hasn’t been served and is tweeting about it. And within a few minutes, your meal arrives.

Believe it or not, this scenario actually occurred aboard a Virgin America flight, according to Porter Gale, the airline’s vice president of marketing. Gale relayed the incident at a recent Twitter conference in San Francisco. (Virgin America’s entire fleet is equipped with wi-if networking, which is how the passenger was able to tweet about the missing meal.)

Now I can’t imagine the above scenario happening on board one of my flights, but I’m sure the flight attendant who was notified by the captain that 3B had been skipped couldn’t believe it was happening on her flight either. Why this passenger didn’t ring the call light, I don’t know. Then again, why ring the call light when you can just tweet about it! Tweeting is all the rage right now, especially at 30,000 feet.

A month ago I happened to be at home enjoying a day off, when I logged onto twitter and read a post from Johnny Jet about being on a particular flight, which just so happened to be the flight I normally work from New York to Los Angeles. Quickly I logged onto the flight service website and looked up the crew.

I tweeted back, ‘If you’re sitting in business class on the left hand side of the aircraft you’re in good hands. Your flight attendant is a super stew.”

Johnny Jet responded, “You’re right. Kristen says hi.”

A few weeks later I ran into Kristen who asked, “How did you know that passenger on my flight?”

“I don’t really know him,” I told her. “I mean I do follow his tweets and he did send me a laviator shot (pictured) but I don’t know him-know him! Even though I feel like I do.”

“That’s crazy that you were emailing him while we were in the air,” she laughed.

Not really. Not anymore. Which is why twitter is so amazing.

“Do you tweet in the air?” a twitterer recently asked me.

“Only when I’m commuting to work. Never while I’m at work – working. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be working, would I?” I responded back.

“Do you ever get recognized by passengers in flight from your blog?” someone else tweeted.

“Never!” I typed back. There are a few coworkers who know that I write Galley Gossip, but I’ve never been confronted by a passenger. Though, I must admit, that would be kind of nice.

Photos courtesy of Svacher (computer) and Johnny Jet (Laviator shot)

You can find Gadling on Twitter, as well as the most of the Gadling Team: Mike Barish, Kraig Becker, Catherine Bodry, Alison Brick, Scott Carmichael, Justin Glow, Stephen Greenwood, Aaron Hotfelder, Tom Johansmeyer, Jeremy Kressmann, Heather Poole, Jamie Rhein, Annie Scott, Karen Walrond, Kent Wien, Brenda Yun.