Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sweet Home Chicago...

'Citizen journalism' is currently sweeping the internet, and do not think that an on-line 'personal experience' and 'knowledge' based Travel Guide has been left out. claims that it is a "complete, up-to-date, and reliable world wide travel guide." From the 'destination of the month' to 'off the beaten path' cities: this free consumer information web site was created to share knowledge about cities around the world (13,787 cities so far!) with travellers. WikiTravel is a Web site where anyone with Internet access can create, update, edit, and illustrate and article.

This all seems so fantastical on the surface! It is a travel guide constantly being updated. However, as with any "work in progress," there are going to be some glitches. I am going to confess it would be untruthful to claim my issues with WikiTravel are not 100% Subjective.

As a newcomer to WikiTravel, naturally the first thing I did was Search: Chicago. Although I currently live in San Francisco, I was born and raised in Chicago. Rumor has it that Chicagoan's are extremely passionate about their city, and I am a Prime example of that! So while I was scrolling through the WikiTravel: Chicago page, I was not surprised to find a few things that "pushed my buttons."

WikiTravel paints detailed pictures of these different cities for the curious traveler. How to get there (airports, train-stations, ect), how to get around while your there (public transportation, rental cars, taxi cabs), museums, parks, zoo's, tourist attractions, suburbs, events that happen in the city, where to shop and eat, bars/clubs, hotels. I think you get the drift, and can clearly see that WikiTravel has not left much out.

Personally, quantity and quality are two completely different things! Moreover, some of the random information given was quite a surprise, as well as some of the best things Chicago has to offer were under-represented and even left out.

Here are a few examples that caught my eye: Chicago is known for having fabulous food; there are endless amounts of restaurants and caf├ęs at your fingertips. So the fact that Leona's was on this website is ridiculous “Good all-around Italian far, multiple locations.” That was the description of this mediocre chain restaurant, which deserves little if any recognition in a city with so many options. Fabulous, one of a kind, family owned, hidden gem restaurants like Mario’s Tacos, which is a well kept secret, can be found in Blue Island, a neighborhood on Chicago’s far south side.

Another prime example of blatant under/misrepresentation was under the ‘events’ section of the website. As the third largest city in the United States, it is hard to believe that there are only three yearly events, but that is not the worst part. WikiTravel: Chicago travel guide explains to readers that there is an annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, that takes place on Columbus Drive the weekend before March 17th and that the Chicago River is dyed green. That is all true; however, if you have ever been to Chicago for the weekend preceding St. Patricks Day you would be fully aware that the real celebration takes place on the south side of the city in the Irish Catholic dominated neighborhood known as Beverly! “Today, the South Side Irish Parade is considered the largest neighborhood-based St. Patrick’s Day parade outside of Dublin. It grew from 17 children marching around the block 27 years ago to an event that hosts over 15,000 marchers and 250,000+ spectators each year.” More history about Chicago's South Side Irish Parade can be found on their very own website.

Well I officially got carried away with this post, but I guess I found something I was passionate about and honestly, I could keep going for days. However, as an Internet-savvy student, I know that sitting here and complaining on the blog is not going to help anything! So off I go to create, update, and edit WikiTravel’s Chicago travel guide page, and here is my suggestions check your hometown’s guide and see if anything gets you riled up!


ChristinaK said...

great blog! how did the editing go? now i want to visit chicago!

Evan Prodromou said...

Thanks for working on Chicago! As you can see, Chicago is not yet a "star" guide for Wikitravel -- although a world-class city like this one really deserves a world-class guide.

I think there are a few things our Chicago guide needs badly: to be broken up into districts; a good map; a few passes on the editorial side and a lot of details in the listings. I hope you really take some time with it!

jani said...

Some news I figured you might be interested in -- a two-man editorial team has been working their butts of whipping the Wikitravel Chicago guide into shape, and the result is now a published guidebook:

Give it a spin!