City Guides Subsite? September 26, 2006 12:55 PM   Subscribe

cityguides.metafilter.com? How about it?

Inspired by Lougi's recent Askme Q, I suggest a section be set up where people can a) post requests for specific city info and b) post their fave tips for cities they know well. These threads could remain open indefinitely and be a great resource for people travelling or moving and would cut down on AskMe Q's about such things. If possible, perhaps a sidebar on Ask which just lists the names of the last 5 cityguide threads that have had activity would be a handy way to see when a city you know/care about has questions/activities.
posted by dobbs to Feature Requests at 12:55 PM (40 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

We've talked about travel sites before, and everyone seems to have a different idea of what a site could become.

Give me the following, either in a plain-text description, jpg, or whatever:

- what the front page of the site looks like and contains
- what a thread page looks like
- how to organize things
- once organized, how the front page leads people to drop into any section
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:23 PM on September 26, 2006


Why not just start a wiki site and post it to Projects?
posted by Eideteker at 1:31 PM on September 26, 2006


I'm not sure why this needs to be a separate section. The virtue of AskMe is that it can provide info that other "city guides" can't (because it is more timely, specific, subjective, etc.). If there is an excess of city travel questions (and I'm not convinced that there is), then the best solution is probably to delete the more general 'I'm going to X, what is there to see and do' questions. I think we should treat louigi's question as an outlier, because, well, it is.
posted by Urban Hermit at 1:33 PM on September 26, 2006


How about two dropdowns at the top of the page?

1)
ALL
BERLIN
CHICAGO
LONDON
NEW YORK
SYDNEY
etc.

2)
ALL
BARS
HOTELS
RESTAURANTS
SHOPPING
etc.

These lists would have to be refined, of course, but by default they would apear as ALL and ALL, meaning you'd see all posts about all cities. But you could refine it to LONDON and BARS by picking a location and a topic from the two dropdowns.

It woud be great if you could set a preference/cookie to save your choice of location.

It would be cool if the site was more like Monkeyfilter, in other words a combination MeFi and AskMe. One could either post a question or just some raw information. But the categories would provide a structure. In other words, I couldn't post about British politics, because that wouldn't be a category.
posted by grumblebee at 1:43 PM on September 26, 2006


I think doing a retagging project that just included the word "cityguide" on these posts would handle an awful lot of this. I'm not against the idea, but it is a quickie fix.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:46 PM on September 26, 2006


- what the front page of the site looks like and contains/ a once organised, how the front page leads people to drop into any section

A list of countries, leading to a list of regions, leading to a list of cities, leading to a list of categories (galleries, museums, nightclubs, festivals, interesting districts, &c.) with a sidebar on each city page listing time-specific events (maybe hooked in from Upcoming.org?). Those lists could also reference existing AskMe content by tag:
  • Scotland
    • Glasgow [AskMe]
    • Edinburgh [AskMe]

- what a thread page looks like

Can't quite see how the usual *.metafilter.com post 'n' comment setup could work for this. A Wiki type thing would defo be a better bet, because, say, if a restaurant closed down, we could then delete the reference to it, rather than have it recommended in a comment, with another comment later saying 'I went there, and it'd been shut for two years, you bastards.'.

Another thought - it might be nice to highlight contributions from locals, determined by the long/lat we have in our profiles?

Oh. On preview: what both grumblebee and jessamyn said, really.
posted by jack_mo at 1:59 PM on September 26, 2006


jessamyn++
posted by boo_radley at 2:10 PM on September 26, 2006


I agree that this is pretty much what tags are for.
posted by desuetude at 2:26 PM on September 26, 2006


All AskMe's should be Geo-tagged. Especially the anonymous ones.

please?
posted by blue_beetle at 2:35 PM on September 26, 2006


I'm somewhat neutral about whether or not CitiFilter exists, but if it does, there should be a category called MEETUP, and all the meetup stuff can migrate there.
posted by grumblebee at 2:39 PM on September 26, 2006


Why doesn't something like this work?

If the answer is inconsistent tagging, wouldn't time be better spent on some sort of mechanism for trusted users to augment the existing tags?
posted by togdon at 2:44 PM on September 26, 2006


What about a Mefi layer in Google Earth?
posted by DenOfSizer at 2:56 PM on September 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


The tags on ask thing doesn't work because I want to be able to post to nyc.metafilter.com and tell you about the crappy tiramisu I just had at tiramisu king and how downhill they've gone since their heyday and that's not in the form of a question. When I dislike the tiramisu, I don't ask a question, and I don't wait for a question about the tiramisu. I just tell you. qed, cityguide.metafilter.com/nyc/tiramisu/neustile.
posted by neustile at 2:57 PM on September 26, 2006


Yeah, I was sort of aiming someplace between Ask and something new, like what Neustile said--so that it's not all just Q&A but if I hit a new restaurant o whatever, I can post it for other Toronto MeFites or travellers to read.
posted by dobbs at 3:02 PM on September 26, 2006


A geo-blog? Meh.
posted by Skygazer at 3:18 PM on September 26, 2006


I think the value of reading about other locales on Mefi like many other things derives from having an identifiable mefi personality (IMP™) giving a cohesive and highly subjective narrative. A structured wiki or other field deliniated form structure would be as devoid of personality and utilitarian as CitySearch even if you could see the contributor because the narrative would be shot. Might as well have a $$$ scale rating and that sort of crap. That not better than an IMP™.
posted by Skygazer at 3:35 PM on September 26, 2006


Scotland
Glasgow [AskMe]
Edinburgh [AskMe]


should be:

Edinburgh [AskMe]
Glasgow [AskMe]
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:50 PM on September 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Hm... why is AskMe not already good enough for this? Some folks have asked. Here's what I think on it:

1) No maps integration. Any good travel / local info site needs a maps component so you can get directions to whatever you're learning about.

2) It's too much of a palimpsest. In theory, yes, people who want to find Hotels in Berlin can search AskMe for the string "Hotels Berlin," but there's no telling what all non-travel content might come back. The mode of AskMe is to post your question, get your answer, and then let it fade into history. Mere tagged questions are not enough to create a truly structured, durable information resource about Berlin Hotels. You need a database of them so you can see them all on a map at once, etc, and so that differing opinions about each one can be viewed side-by-side. It's cool to know one person's recommendation, but knowing that 10 people all said it was A-OK is much much superior.

3) AskMe is totally demand-driven. There is no reason to contribute to it until someone asks. In one sense, content is provided exactly where needed. Sure. But in another sense, the growth of the travel content on AskMe shouldn't be limited by the reg/login/ask barrier of entry. Let MeFites load up the travel section with everything they know about their home town and favorite haunts. It will fill up rapidly if the process is fun and engaging. In short order, it will have a hell of a lot more info than a purely demand-driven site. And anyway it could retain a demand-driven or question-driven aspect as well, so it could remain useful to members and non-members as well.

4) Travel sites can rake in some good ad money. Matt will never get a lucrative Orbitz flight-finder sold onto AskMe. Many will say "good," but I'm always in favor of making the guy some more money, and anyway I use Orbitz to find flights now and wouldn't mind an in-context ad of that kind.
posted by scarabic at 4:14 PM on September 26, 2006


I think doing a retagging project that just included the word "cityguide" on these posts would handle an awful lot of this.

Good call Jessamyn. I agree more rigorous tagging will help, along with adding a 'city guides' category to the ask sidebar. There's a good resource built up in here already but it's not entirely accessible. By making it so we would (hopefully) cut down on the generic questions and encourage the more specific, interesting ones as well as location updates (what was cool in 2004 might be boring or closed now).

I think if it moves towards offering opinion then it becomes more like a blog, there are plenty of places I can read opinions about places to eat or things to see already. Personally I'd have less use for that kid of posting. I'm not against it either, if others find it useful then cool.

However this is set up good tagging is the key to making it work I reckon.
posted by shelleycat at 4:29 PM on September 26, 2006


Trouble is, this would break the MeFi format. ie., MeFi is all blogged (submitted and archived by date). This looks like it'd be a repository. A wiki, basically. Or at least it should be. Blogging this kind of content would be dumb.

I think it's a good idea, and the MeFi community would certainly pump some great content into it, but is it right?
posted by armoured-ant at 4:33 PM on September 26, 2006


Oh, also if there is a place people can post their own recommendations there'll need to be a strong spam watch to prevent self linking. If someone is telling me a restaurant is great I'd rather it's because they went there and liked it than they own the place or get money for referrals. Travel and tourism is pretty highly represented on the internet these days and I'm betting there are many many people out there itching to post about their wonderful whatever on quality sites like metafilter.

1) No maps integration. Any good travel / local info site needs a maps component so you can get directions to whatever you're learning about.

I see maps integration being problematic for those of us who live in countries not well served by google maps. I can tell you a couple of places to get great NZ maps online but I'm sure this would vary by country. Probably not a problem in the greater scheme of things given how many questions in ask are focused on the US.
posted by shelleycat at 4:34 PM on September 26, 2006


Sarge surely

Scotland
Glasgow [AskMe]
Edinburgh [Don'tAsk]
posted by Gratishades at 4:45 PM on September 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


I can post it for other Toronto MeFites

Let's face it, what we are all really screaming for is:

TorontoFilter

I mean ChatFilter might be nice, but it isn't the centre of the universe..
posted by Chuckles at 5:00 PM on September 26, 2006


I think doing a retagging project that just included the word "cityguide" on these posts would handle an awful lot of this. I'm not against the idea, but it is a quickie fix.

Why stop at citiguide :)

See Tag Fairies, or any number of other discussions..

And, we do already have a wiki. It could be a beautiful thing with only a little more attention.
posted by Chuckles at 5:25 PM on September 26, 2006


Along with what Urban Hermit says, I don't really see the big want or need for this, and that is guaged by what I read in AskMe. If there were really a need for this we would be reading tons of travel questions, much more that what we have now.

This idea would end up being geography/culture filter which really isn't necessary. If you have a travel question, AskMe will hook you right up.

That's my two pennies.
posted by snsranch at 5:32 PM on September 26, 2006


We've talked about travel sites before, and everyone seems to have a different idea of what a site could become.

I've been working, on and off, on this very idea for years, but never had the time to write anything. If you could use the powers of scale in this case to your advantage, the site could be awesome.

The basic gist: stories. Anecdotes. Pictures allowed, but the idea would be that they accompanied a story, not the other way 'round. Basically, The Fray for travel sites, with photos.

Give me the following, either in a plain-text description, jpg, or whatever:
  • what the front page of the site looks like and contains: Openning paragraph (or 100 words, or whatever algorithm you choose) plus a scaled-down photo from the story, if the user uploaded one. Links to the story and the country/countries (which would idealy be tags) that would lead to other stories about the same area.
  • what a thread page looks like: The story at the top. Pictures inline or on the side, doesn't matter. Probably better inline. Underneath, commentary, Meta-style.
  • how to organize things: By story, related to user and tags. General discussion directlinks use a story ID. Images have a story ID. You can then search for stories by user, search for tags by user, or search for stories by tags (and vica-versa).
  • once organized, how the front page leads people to drop into any section: Stories on the front page are first-in, first-out, just like every other Meta section. You might give the option to view by location as well. Up to you. Anyway, I think it would be k-rad.

posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:56 PM on September 26, 2006


If you're really serious about doing something like this, Matt, I could do a mock-up for you by the end of the week. Most of the code I've already got written, as I've been thinking about something like this, as I said, for a quite a while now.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:58 PM on September 26, 2006


monkeyguides.metafilter.com

When in monkey, it's best to monkey monkey monkey. Near the lower section of monkey you can be sure to see monkey. Never monkey the monkey on the monkey. Monkey monkey monkey. Traveller Warning: Monkey! Continuing past the monkey you will monkey when you see the other monkey of the monkey. Once that is done, you're likely monkey with monkey. Oh, and monkey.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:16 PM on September 26, 2006


This idea would end up being geography/culture filter which really isn't necessary. If you have a travel question, AskMe will hook you right up.

Except when Lougi asked his questions, there was discussion as to whether he broke the guidelines or not (and accusations of him having a disorder, for chrissakes).

I'm not talking about AskMeTravel. I'm talking about a place where Qs like his are not just welcome but encouraged.

As for making it elsewhere in a wiki, I think that defeats the purpose--the point is to keep it here on Metafilter, where we can tap the user resource.
posted by dobbs at 6:26 PM on September 26, 2006


Civil_Disobedient, you're basically saying it'd be ticketstubs, only with photos instead of ticketstubs?

I dunno if stories about travel comes close to people wanting info on hotels in Berlin or wanting to say some Tiramisu sucked. It's one cool aspect of travel, to tell stories and show pics of your journey, but I dunno if that's enough to be what "metafilter travel site" means in my mind.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:52 PM on September 26, 2006


Well, it'd be more like a Metafilter-travel site than a Ask-Metafilter-travel site, that's one thing. I think the bigger question is: what would you want it do to? You are the boss, as they say.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:21 PM on September 26, 2006


I've been thinking about this idea for awhile as well; there are just so many AskMe posts about what to do in New York for a long weekend.

I think Civil_Disobedient's idea is kind of cool, but it doesn't answer the AskMe portion of things. What about jessamyn's retagging project, expanded so that (Oh God, here's a lot of work) it would involve some editing?

I realize editing isn't exactly blog-esque, but it would be a sort of "best of" AskMeFi, not necessarily dependent upon best answers.

Example:

The sidebar would be AskTravel or whatever, with a menu as others have suggested. You click on New York hotels, and you get a bunch of AskMeFi questions/answers on hotels. Are you looking for a cheap place to stay? Here's previous advice on hotels. While you're at it, do you want info on bed bugs in New York hotels? Here's that question, with those answers.

It's mostly a search thing, I think ... but I kind of like the idea of picking and choosing which questions and answers to use. If there have been a gajillion posts asking about the best places to shop in New York, why not meld them into one, with a few sub-categories (Brooklyn, West Village, boutiques, unique, thrift)? Edit out the "what mathowie said," or the "what dobbs and mathowie said" sort of stuff; replace it with "3 users agreed with this suggestion."
posted by brina at 11:30 PM on September 26, 2006


brina, there has been some work in the wiki for that kind of thing: FrequentlyAskedOfMetafilter.

The format of that page is a little messed currently..

The way I see it, it should only have a quick summary and references to AskMe questions. References should be full question titles or one sentence summaries of the question text. Individuals could add a [details] page for any entries they wanted, where an edited consolidation of existing advice could be presented. Last but not least, the direct links to outside pages should be removed. this isn't a general internet FAQ, it is FrequentlyAskedOfMetafilter..

The MetaFilter Travel enthusiasts might want something more prominent, but that could be developed over time; meanwhile, the infrastructure exists now. People who want to contribute, but aren't able to work on the back-end stuff, could be doing it.

I'm away for a couple of weeks, but I think I will try to implement some of that for topics I'm interested in (which doesn't include travel, but does include Toronto!) when I get back..
If anyone wants to have a Massimo's vs. Cora's edit war, bring it on!
posted by Chuckles at 12:28 AM on September 27, 2006


Don't anyone tell me I'm all talk :)

Here's an example of how I think FrequentlyAskedOfMetafilter should be formated: Technology - What is a good introduction to electronics?.

A little more summary under the question might be good, and who knows what else..
posted by Chuckles at 1:13 AM on September 27, 2006


Actually, I think it would be good to include the date the question was asked, along with the link, but I'm not going back to edit now.
posted by Chuckles at 1:15 AM on September 27, 2006


NYC-filter with alsorans. Otherwise: random spiels and questions for few eyeballs. You'd wander in, see someone blowing on about some backwater restaurant in Hicksville and go: "meh" and not return.
Yay tagging nay Mefitravel.
posted by peacay at 3:12 AM on September 27, 2006


Map integration is the worst creation ever. It's ugly and I know how to find google maps all by myself. Just say no.
posted by dame at 8:01 AM on September 27, 2006


Sarge surely

Scotland
Glasgow [AskMe]
Edinburgh [Don'tAsk]


Sarge surely

Scotland
Glasgow [AskMe]
Edinburgh [you'llhavehadyourAskme]
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:08 AM on September 27, 2006


How long has the Ticketstubs subdomain been around? I had no idea we were doing concert reviews.
posted by aburd at 1:15 PM on September 27, 2006


Chuckles -- that's great stuff. Maybe I'll try and help out with a travel project -- if that's the direction people are headed. Also definitely agree that time stamps are needed.
posted by brina at 8:24 PM on September 27, 2006


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