Earlier this week, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said during an interview on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report that development of the travel site was a priority of the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the online encyclopedia and other properties.
Wikivoyage contains more than 25,000 articles on places around the world. The articles can be viewed on a number of devices—desktop, notebook, smartphone, and tablet—and can be freely downloaded as a PDF file, printed, or even gathered into a book so you can create a custom guide for a trip.
Each article is laid out in the familiar Wikipedia format and will provide historical information about a location as well as suggestions how to get there and travel around within it, what to see and do while there, and information on the essentials—eating, drinking, shopping, and sleeping.
Thus far, eight languages are supported by the website, although all the articles aren’t translated into all the languages yet.
Launching amid controversy
Wikivoyage has been in beta since September and has been a source of controversy since its launch.
The Wikipedia community voted 540-152 in August 2012 to set up a travel wiki under the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia and its sister projects, which now includes Wikivoyage.
A lawsuit by a commercial travel wiki, Wikitravel, operated by Internet Brands, was directed at two Wikimedia project users who were also users of the Wikivoyage project before it was operated by the Wikimedia Foundation. It accused them of infringing on Internet Brands’ trademarks.
The Wikimedia Foundation countered with its own lawsuit in September 2012, seeking a judicial declaration that Internet Brands had no lawful right to impede, disrupt, or block the creation of Wikivoyage.
“While the suit filed by Internet Brands does not directly name the Wikimedia Foundation as a defendant, we believe that we are the real target,” Wikimedia Deputy counsel Kelly Kay explained in the nonprofit’s blog.
“We feel our only recourse is to file this suit in order to get everything on the table and deal head on with Internet Brand’s actions over the past few months in trying to impede the creation of this new travel project,” Kay added.
In November, the court dismissed Internet Brands’ lawsuit against one of the Wikivoyage volunteers, according to a spokesman for the Wikimedia Foundation. The Foundation, in a blog post at the time, described the result as a victory for the volunteer and a second one who was also named in the suit. The Foundation’s case against Internet Brands is still pending.
Editor’s note: Information regarding the status of the litigation was updated in this report on January 13, 2013 at the request of the Wikimedia Foundation.
John Mello writes on technology and cyber security for a number of online publications and is former managing editor of the Boston Business Journal and Boston Phoenix. Disclosure: He also writes for Hewlett-Packad's marketing website TechBeacon.