City guides? City guides! October 10, 2014 3:34 PM   Subscribe

Are there MeFi travel guides? If not, why not?

It seems like there are a lot of questions about visiting cities or countries on the green. It appears they cycle every couple months or so. Los Angeles, New York, Italy, etc. I know you can search the green for info, but it can be tedious and misleading (I searched for Miami recently and had to wade through a bunch of posts about selling condos and Miami Vice).

I'm not volunteering to make travel guides (dissertating! being a mom! teaching classes!), but I do wonder if this is something that would be helpful. It could be as simple as compiling links from the aforementioned questions on the green or maybe something more dynamic where users could add to an established section (I'm looking at you, south Florida MeFites. Where is this damn Cuban food I keep hearing about?).
posted by mrfuga0 to Feature Requests at 3:34 PM (19 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

We did have an experimental subsite called Travel several years back, with the idea of featuring travel-specific questions and trip reports and so on; at the time it just didn't feel baked so it got shuttered, though it's possible we'll take another look at the general idea at some point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:37 PM on October 10, 2014


Site search is pretty good at turning up relevant results, but yeah there can be a lot to wade through. Better than search, especially when you have a few good keywords (like Miami + Florida) is to use the tag URL construction. You can type http://ask.metafilter.com/tags/tag1+tag2 (combine 2 tags with the + character) into your browser and see all posts on AskMe with those tags.

Tag search would be even better if we could specify a question category in addition to the tag search, alas.
posted by carsonb at 4:28 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you go to the Travel & Transportation page at Ask MetaFilter you'll see a wee search form at the top. Type in a city name there and you'll eventually end up at a page like this: Questions About San Francisco, CA. It might be a little more focused than search results for 'San Francisco'.
posted by pb (staff) at 5:10 PM on October 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


Before a couple of past trips, I searched AskMeFi for past questions -- and then I posted an Ask of my own.

The older questions gave me ideas & background, but a new question let me get fresh information. The snag with a site (or with only relying on past questions) is that of freshness & verification. If no one tends to the information, it goes from "gorgeous rose garden" to "I think there are snakes under that hedge" in a sadly short span of time.

Wikitravel is a place I go to for information on places even close to home. It's worth a shot. (But good tags would also help a lot -- which reminds me of one of my favorite Ponies: the ability to tag past FPPs and Asks.)
posted by wenestvedt at 6:52 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


fyi, wikitravel got bought and is likely being turned into a for-profit site with built in ads. a lot of its community members have moved to wikivoyage. lately i've been checking both, but finding more recent and valuable info at wikivoyage.

i've used some of the ask questions too, but i think asking a new question once you've been through the archives a little is fine. sometimes the old answers can give you good ideas, but the question may limit how helpful they are (for example, if someone asks a question about taking their family to the grand canyon, a decent amount of answers probably won't be super helpful to me, a solo traveler).
posted by dogwalker at 8:03 PM on October 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Anyone comes to Iowa and fails to hit me up as a guide I will be mad.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:10 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Before a couple of past trips, I searched AskMeFi for past questions -- and then I posted an Ask of my own.

This is what I do/did when visiting/moving/passing thru somewhere. It works but does err on the verbose (by that I mean on the site side) and always feels, silly I know, a bit icky for me to do. I feel like I should just rely on the older information and just let it be and use that instead of re-asking the same/similar question but X amount of time more recently.

The sad part is that I'm obviously not that shy or ashamed because I have also took it upon myself to send out a wave of memails to all users (within some form of reason/activity/radius at least) in a given geographic location. Only for *big* things. I think I've done it twice, once when looking for work in area A and again when moving, sight unseen with the wife and newborn, to area B. Both times the help was generous and tailored to our needs and I don't think I offended anyone. Hell, I even made sure to ask the mods if I was doing something un-cool and was told that, within reason, it shouldn't be a problem.

The older questions gave me ideas & background, but a new question let me get fresh information. The snag with a site (or with only relying on past questions) is that of freshness & verification. If no one tends to the information, it goes from "gorgeous rose garden" to "I think there are snakes under that hedge" in a sadly short span of time.

Perfectly worded. I don't know if I like the possible solution idea of a MetaTravel or a hosted-wiki-of-all-the-places... but I don't know if I dislike the idea either. Seriously, it's a tough nut to crack but I for one would likely use that more than some of the recent changes/additions I've seen around here. Backseat driver and all that, I know, I know....

I digress, but during my time here I have both garnered some really, really amazing information regarding food, neighborhoods, and just plain amazing things about a given area as well as posting the same for another place on this globe we all sit upon (mostly Yellowstone National Park, in case you're wondering). I'm not alone. We have resources and experts here that, I think, could benefit from something more structured than moderately-filtered, and thus more specific or relevant, AskMe queries.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:27 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


At the risk of derailing, perhaps something on the profile side that you could flag or configure that notified Self-Proclaimed-Member-Who-Lives in or Knows-Milwaukee when a question regarding that area comes up is one type of solution to bridge the gap between a dedicated garden (and all the upkeep it would require, as already well-stated above).

Maybe if those AskMe questions about visiting Paris could be setup to allow for a radius value to be assigned and all users within that radius, or who have proclaimed to be an expert of a spot within that given radius for that matter, notified or listed for the Asker to take it upon him/herself to peruse their previous replies and/or contact them on their own for advice.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:35 PM on October 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Personally, I feel that there are plenty of travel sites out there than already do this well and have a much larger potential audience than MetaFilter. So I don't really need a need for this. But I also won't poop on your parade if anyone decides to build such a thing. I could even add entries for the horrifically racist souvenirs shop and major Evangelical institutions of strike education in the vicinity.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:18 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Another way to do this is to use advanced search terms at Google like:

site:ask.metafilter.com miami -condo -apartment -vice

which should turn up questions on Ask that mention Miami but not apartments, condos, or Miami Vice.
posted by sockermom at 10:27 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


"At the risk of derailing, perhaps something on the profile side that you could flag or configure that notified Self-Proclaimed-Member-Who-Lives in or Knows-Milwaukee when a question regarding that area comes up is one type of solution to bridge the gap between a dedicated garden (and all the upkeep it would require, as already well-stated above). "

Just advertise brandy and someone from Milwaukee will show up.
posted by klangklangston at 11:38 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I know you can search the green for info, but it can be tedious and misleading (I searched for Miami recently and had to wade through a bunch of posts about selling condos and Miami Vice).

If you do the search within the major heading of Travel & Transportation then it gives the results you expect. Site-wide search is not specific enough.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 1:35 AM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is why the Mefi wiki section was created, but it could use updating.
posted by gingerbeer at 7:54 AM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I kind of have a (pathetically underdeveloped) blog about where I live (that I am trying to figure out how to better develop). I know some other folks on mefi blog about where they live (cuz I answered at least one Ask for someone with a location-based blog). It makes me wonder if there is an angle here whereby members could get some support/feedback for such projects and some means, along the lines of what rolandofeld was saying, for letting folks know "this mefite has a blog on this place" or whatever.
posted by Michele in California at 10:24 AM on October 11, 2014


[snip]or who have proclaimed to be an expert of a spot within that given radius[/snip]

To be all crusty curmudgeon here, Ask already has it's fair share of FauxPerts and GooglePerts for almost any topic. I sort of feel like letting people self-select as an expert would just excaberate the situation. I can think of more than a few times over the years where some factual Rome info given was way out of date or even flat out wrong.
posted by romakimmy at 12:07 PM on October 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Interesting what you have to say about fauxperts, romakimmy. My city (Bath) comes up as a where to go in England recommendation on pretty much a monthly basis, and I'm really keen to write a full itinerary for people every time, and sometimes do. I've thought about using my profile page to have my tourist suggestions for the city, but basically, every time I do write an answer, I seem to focus on a different thing someone might want to do, so end up recommending different things every time.

I think the point I'm getting to is that if I did point at a comprehensive list of what to do in Bath, it'd just be a second rate version of the Rough Guide. It's the filtering where AskMe adds the value, I guess.
posted by ambrosen at 4:56 PM on October 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


FYI, if you feel like you have particular expertise on a particular city (or any other subject), and you want to be alerted of posts on that topic... you can click on the relevant tag, and then you'll get a page with a heading that says "[Number] Posts Tagged With [X]." Just under that heading is the word "subscribe" with a little RSS Logo. That will give you an RSS feed for all posts tagged with that subject, so you can subscribe in your favorite RSS reader.

I know not everybody uses RSS, so I would not claim this is a universal solution, but I thought it's worth mentioning.
posted by yankeefog at 1:29 AM on October 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I sent an out-of-the-blue email to a guy who hosts a podcast I love -- Josh Levin, co-host of "Hang Up and Listen" -- because he talks about his hometown (New Orleans) a lot. He sent me a canned, multi-page list of recommendations that was just what I expected -- and it was also just what I hoped to get! :7) It provided validation of some common recommendations, and warning that others were kind of lame.

I should make up a list like that….
posted by wenestvedt at 7:55 AM on October 12, 2014


wenestvedt: I have something along those lines (canned New Orleans recommendations / guide / warnings) that I send to acquaintances that hit me up for info for their upcoming visits.

As for AskMes, though: the ones about New Orleans usually say, "Oh man where should we eat when we come down there?" and that answer changes every month since the fine dining scene here is A.) first class and B.) ever-changing. I can't recommend a permanent guide, and honestly I enjoy the "Where to eat" questions because I get to reminisce on all the good places I've been lately.

(and now I'm thinking about how I went to Peche yesterday for a late-night dinner and it's exactly as good as you hear it is, except it's actually better than that)
posted by komara at 8:35 PM on October 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


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