01/22/2013 01:40 pm ET | Updated Jan 25, 2013

WikiVoyage, Wikipedia Of Travel Guides, Leaves Beta To Take On The Travel Industry

After 244 years, the Encyclopedia Britannica published its last print edition in May, marking the end of the venerable 32-volume set. The probable culprit for its demise was, of course, Wikipedia, which bills itself as "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit."

Now Wikipedia's next target is the travel industry.

The Skift travel blog has revealed that the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that supports Wikipedia, took its crowdsourced travel guide WikiVoyage out of beta last week. The move has been some time coming; in July 2012, the Wikimedia Foundation decided to host and support the nonprofit WikiVoyage, breaking its relatively long tradition of loyalty to the for-profit Wikitravel.


What planning a trip to Rome on WikiVoyage looks like.

How can we be sure that WikiVoyage will be any more successful than Wikitravel, its older rival? Jani Patokallio, who works for Lonely Planet and is the former managing editor of Wikitravel Press, which makes travel guides based on Wikitravel, has criticized Wikitravel for only focusing on ad revenue. But lack of profit motive doesn't mean WikiVoyage will do any better. Patokallio points out that a "lack of vision and desire" as well as a "lack of funding" might keep WikiVoyage from ever dominating any for-profit travel websites.

Since Lonely Planet, Rough Guides and Frommer's have all survived despite Wikitravel's existence, it's unlikely these guides will reach their demise because of WikiVoyage's launch. As Rachelle Dragani of TechNewsWorld notes: "While the idea of crowdsourced information for common knowledge was a pretty novel idea when Wikipedia launched, the travel industry already has years of online reviews, sample itineraries and personal testimonies about tons of destinations."

Correction: This article earlier stated that WikiVoyage only had 26,567 English articles to Wikitravel's 83,077. Jani Patokallio later wrote in to point out that that was a vagary of statistical calculation; Wikitravel includes pages that do not have content (i.e. talk pages, redirects) in its count of English-language articles, while WikiVoyage does not. WikiVoyage's count of pages with content is 26,567; Wikitravel's is 25,989.

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